Minnesota Department of Corrections
PURPOSE: To provide the opportunity for offenders to receive visits during their period of incarceration in an effort to maintain ties to family and friends; to enhance the offenders’ transition from prison to the community; and to enable the offenders to continue to foster relationships with significant individuals.
APPLICABILITY: All employees, offenders, and offenders’ visitors to DOC adult correctional facilities
Administrative ban – persons who are forbidden to enter any Minnesota correctional facility (MCF)due to extreme acts of visiting misconduct.
Abuse – a documented history of physical, sexual, or psychological abuse.
Appeal – written correspondence to the warden/designee at the correctional facility currently housing the offender.
Applicant denial – visitor does not currently meet visiting rule criteria for a visit.
Close supervision (CS) – an assigned seating arrangement that allows staff to closely observe the visit.
Extended visit – visit up to one additional hour beyond the regularly-scheduled visit length, due to the visitor having traveled in excess of 100 miles one way to the correctional facility. The distance is calculated using an Internet map and inputting the visitor’s address on file.
Immediate family – legal spouse, children (birth, step and adopted), parents, siblings (birth, step, adopted and half), grandparents, and grandchildren.
Indefinite ban – persons who are forbidden to enter any MCF for an increased length of time, over one year in length, due to specific acts of misconduct.
Non-contact (NC) – a visiting status that prohibits physical contact between the visitor and offender.
Non-contact committee – a committee of facility staff directed by the warden/designee to review all facility visiting restrictions.
No visits (NV) – no visiting privileges, as specified.
Professional visitor – professionals requiring access to offender clients, such as probation officers, judges, social workers, religious representatives, or lawyers (including law students, paralegals or other agents working under the supervision of a duly licensed attorney). For admission and approval procedures for professional visitors, see Division Directive 300.032, “Admittance Authorization to Adult Facilities.”
Protective Order – an order including an order issued by a judge in a criminal, civil, or family proceeding. This includes such examples as: order for protection (OFP), harassment restraining order (HRO), dissolution no contact (DNC), domestic abuse no contact order (DANCO), and criminal no contact order (non-domestic).
Special visits – visits that may be requested and reviewed on an individual basis with regard to extenuating circumstances and must be initiated by the offender or visitor.
Targeted misdemeanor – a misdemeanor identified under Minn. Stat. § 299C.10, subd. 1 (e).
United States (U.S.) territories – the four U.S. territories are: Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Victim – the individual or individuals named as a victim in the complaint, in any charging documents (complaints) that were dropped as part of a plea agreement where the offender was convicted out of the same set of circumstances, as the subject of an active protective order, or as the subject of an active Department of Corrections no contact directive. The victim must be defined in the offender’s active/current offense.
Video visiting – a pre-scheduled visit using technology that allows a visitor at an offsite location to visit with an incarcerated offender.
Visitor – any person who has successfully completed the application process and is approved to enter the facility.
Visitor ban – violation of visiting rules resulting in no visits for a prescribed period of time, as listed on Visiting Restrictions for Visitors (attached).
A. General Rules
Written information regarding visiting is made available to the offender within 24 hours after arrival at the facility. For a full listing of the visiting rules, please review the Statewide Visiting Room Rules (attached). Each facility’s visiting hours, directions to the facility, links to public transportation, and rules are posted on the public DOC website.
1. Visits must not exceed two hours in length, except extended, special, and non-contact (NC) visits.
a) The facility custody level determines the total visiting time, according to the following guidelines:
(1) Level five and four: 16 hours per month;
(2) Level three: 24 hours per month;
(3) Level two, including MCF-Shakopee (MCF-SHK): 36 hours per month; and
(4) Offenders in the Challenge Incarceration Program (CIP): visiting hours and total visiting time is determined by each CIP in relation to the specific program.
b) The offender is responsible to keep track of length of visit and number of hours used for the month.
2. Extended visits
a) A request for an extended visit must be made by the offender directly to the facility visiting department prior to the anticipated visit.
b) All visitors must be active on the offender’s visiting list, unless the captain or higher makes an exception.
c) Offenders may only receive two extended visits per month.
d) Offenders with non-contact restrictions are not eligible for extended visits.
3. Special Visits
a) Special visits must be approved in advance.
b) A criminal history check must be cleared.
c) Proper identification is required.
d) Requests must be submitted to the designated staff by the offender or visitor.
e) All special visits are dependent on space availability.
3. Each Minnesota correctional facility (MCF) with offenders in minimum custody living units must develop and implement procedures regarding minimum custody visits.
4. Each MCF has information available upon request for local public transportation.
5. Video visiting is available as an alternative to in-person visits.
6. All facilities reserve the right to refuse visiting privileges for security reasons.
7. Violation of this policy by offenders results in disciplinary action, visiting restrictions, and/or criminal charges.
8. Violation of this directive by visitors may result in visiting restrictions and/or criminal prosecution.
B. Visiting List
1. Each offender is allowed 24 approved visitors on the visiting list.
2. A victim of an offender’s active/current offense is prohibited from visiting the offender while the offender is incarcerated.
3. Offenders at MCF-St. Cloud (MCF-SCL) have a different number of approved visitors:
a) On reception, offenders are allowed two adult visitors.
b) On pre-sentence investigation (PSI) hold status, offenders are allowed two adult visitors and the dependent minor(s) of the offender, if authorized.
4. Minors under the age of 18 years may only visit facilities if escorted by:
a) A custodial parent or legal guardian; and/or
b) One of the three specified adults who are on the Minor Escort Authorization form (attached) completed by the minor’s custodial parent or legal guardian.
c) Once the Minor Escort Authorization form is on file, the authorizing person must submit written notification to rescind.
5. Visitors may be on the lists of immediate family members and one additional offender’s visiting list. If no immediate family members are incarcerated, visitors are limited to being on two offenders’ visiting lists.
6. Visitors removed from an offender’s visiting list may not reapply for visiting privileges until three months from the last visit. The warden/designee may make an exception only for visitors wishing to be added to the list of an immediate family member.
7. Professional visitors, volunteers, contractors, interns, etc. are not allowed on any offender’s visiting list.
a) Volunteers who are associated with a structured transition services program may request approval for visiting privileges with an offender per Division Directive 300.040, “Volunteer Services Program.”
b) Religious representatives
may elect to apply for regular visiting privileges as outlined in this
directive, or if they wish other accommodations (such as visiting more than one
offender) they may request professional visitor status per procedures in
Division Directive 300.032, "Admittance Authorization to Adult
8. Former staff, contractors, volunteers, interns, and professional visitors may not be on an offender’s visiting list until one year after their association with the facility/offender has ended. The warden/designee may make exceptions.
9. If separated from employment for improper offender association, former staff, contractors, volunteers, interns, and attorneys of record, legal aids, or any other professional visitor may be banned indefinitely. The warden/designee may make exceptions.
10. Current department employees who wish to visit an incarcerated offender must:
a) Complete the requirements outlined in Policy 103.223, "Personal Associations between Staff and Offenders."
b) Next, submit a Visiting Privilege Application form (attached).
c) If the appointing authorities approve the department employee to maintain this relationship with an offender, the employee must wait for approval of the Visiting Privilege Application before a visit may occur.
C. Visiting Privilege Application and Approval
1. Prospective visitors ages 18 and older must complete the Visiting Privilege Application and return it to the designated processing facility as stated on the DOC website and in the DOC offender handbooks.
a) The standardized Visiting Privilege Application form is available to all offenders at each facility.
b) Application forms are also available on the department website.
2. Offenders are responsible for providing application forms to potential visitors.
3. Minors under 18 years of age must be listed on the application of their parent/legal guardian, and/or on the application of one of the specified adults who are authorized on the Minor Escort Authorization form of the minor’s custodial parent or legal guardian to be eligible for visiting.
a) Prior to the first day of visiting, a copy of each minor's state/county certified birth certificate must be received to confirm identification before the minor may visit.
b) A hospital heirloom birth certificate/crib card is not an official document and is not accepted.
c) Staff utilize information from the certified birth certificate and complete the Birth Certificate documentation form (attached).
(1) This form is entered into visiting ODocS.
(2) The copy of the certified birth certificate must be destroyed.
d) Failure to provide the proper birth certificate prior to the day of visiting results in a denied visit for all visitors in that party for the day.
e) Once the Minor Escort Authorization form is on file with the facility, the authorizing person must submit separate written notification to rescind.
4. Upon receipt of the completed Visiting Privilege Application, facility staff must verify that the visitor provided valid identification.
a) Expired and canceled identification are not accepted.
b) The following are the only acceptable forms of identification (ID) recognized by the DOC (a photocopy must accompany the application):
1) A driver’s license or photo ID card from the state or U.S. territory of residence;
2) A valid military ID card;
3) A current passport;
4) A valid Minnesota tribal ID card as detailed in Minn. Stat. § 171.072 (b) and (c); and
5) A matricula consular identification card.
5. Facility staff request a criminal history check.
6. If the application is approved, staff notifies the offender. It is the responsibility of the offender to notify the applicant of visiting approval.
7. Facility staff must notify denied applicants by using the Visitor Application Denial Notice (attached).
8. The applicant’s approved visiting application must be on file prior to a visit.
a) Applications are stored electronically.
b) Approved visitors are added to the offender’s visiting list in COMS.
9. Applicants with criminal backgrounds
a) When an applicant criminal history check comes back with a positive criminal history, facility staff review the history and make a decision concerning the application on a case-by-case basis.
(1) Automatic denials for targeted misdemeanors or higher charges
Felony, gross misdemeanor, targeted misdemeanors (Minn. Stat. § 299C.10, subd. 1 (e)), and misdemeanor drug violations (Minn. Stat. Ch. 152) result in an automatic denial. Targeted misdemeanors identified in Minn. Stat. § 299C.10, subd. 1 (e) are as follows:
(a) Driving while impaired, Minn. Stat. § 169A.20;
(b) Order of protection violation, Minn. Stat. § 518B.01;
(c) Domestic abuse no contact order, Minn. Stat. § 629.75;
(d) Assault fifth degree, Minn. Stat. § 609.224;
(e) Domestic assault, Minn. Stat. § 609.2242
(f) Interference with privacy, Minn. Stat. § 609.746;
(g) Harassment or restraining order violation, Minn. Stat. § 609.748; and
(h) Indecent exposure, Minn. Stat. § 617.23.
(2) An applicant may appeal an automatic denial of an application to the warden/designee of the correctional facility maintaining custody of the offender once the violations are resolved with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA). Appeal decisions are final.
b) The information on the applicant’s criminal history is private and must not be released to the offender.
c) Criminal accomplices may not visit any facility. The warden/designee may make exceptions for immediate family members.
d) Persons convicted of smuggling or attempting to smuggle contraband into a secure facility must have sanctions of an indefinite or administrative ban imposed and may not be granted visiting privileges for a specified time period.
(1) Facility staff review and make a decision concerning the conviction/sanction on a case-by-case basis.
(2) The warden/designee may make exceptions.
e) Applicants on court-ordered supervision must demonstrate one year of positive adjustment and have the supervising authority’s prior approval before consideration for a visit of an offender in a facility. The warden/designee may make exceptions.
f) Formerly incarcerated offenders must demonstrate at least one year of positive adjustment from the time of release before consideration for visiting privileges.
g) If currently under release supervision (including court-ordered supervision, supervised release, parole or conditional release), the formerly incarcerated offender must have approval from the supervising authority.
h) Applicants with active arrest warrants are not approved for visiting.
i) Applicants with pending targeted misdemeanors or higher charges must resolve the charges before being eligible for visiting privileges.
j) Applicants found to be ineligible for visiting privileges during the application approval process are inactivated on all Minnesota DOC offender lists.
10. Appeals and reviews
All decisions must be appealed in writing to the warden/designee within 15 days of any written decision. Appeals received after 15 days are denied. Appeal decisions are final.
11. Visitors to the facility who require a reasonable accommodation for a disability must contact the visiting supervisor at the facility, who determines appropriate action.
12. Applicants are required to re-apply for visiting privileges every two years.
1. All adult visitors must register by completing the Registration and Visiting Agreement (attached) at the information desk when entering the facility.
a) Visitors may only visit with one offender at a time. [Exception: Upon request, offenders and visitors who are all immediate family members may visit together at the same time.]
b) If a visitor is visiting a second offender later on the same day, the visitor must exit the visiting room and re-register before visiting the second offender.
c) If a visitor attempts to visit an offender along with a minor, but is not listed as an approved escort for that minor, all adult visitors in the party are denied visitation for that day.
2. All visitors must provide a valid form of identification when registering at the information desk.
3. Facility staff screen visitors for proper attire.
4. Each facility restricts items that may be taken into the visiting room.
a) There are lockers available at all facilities for visitors to lock up personal items. If a locker is not available, a visitor may be required to leave her/his non-allowable item(s) in her/his vehicle. The DOC is not responsible for the loss or theft of any personal property, lost tokens, or quarters.
b) Cell phones
(1) Cell phones may not be used inside of any facility, but may be kept in the lockers in the lobby area, if available (lockers are not available at the Lino Lakes, Oak Park Heights, or Willow River facilities: therefore cell phones are not allowed in the lobbies at those sites).
(2) All cell phones must be turned off before placement in a locker.
(3) Taking photos or video/audio recording with cellphones is prohibited on state grounds.
c) If a visitor’s behavior indicates that s/he might be under the influence of any mood-altering substance, including alcohol, the watch commander and/or local authorities are notified and the visitor is asked to leave the facility and its grounds. Violation of this rule may result in future sanctions.
All visitors are required to submit to a security check (e.g., a metal detector, hand held wand, and/or pat search) before entering the secured perimeter. All clothing must pass metal detection for the visitor to be admitted. Visitors may be pat searched when reasonable suspicion exists, or when the visitor fails to pass through the metal detector and it has been deemed a non-clothing issue. Except for exigent circumstances, pat searches are only conducted on visitors by staff of the same sex and only when authorized by the warden/designee. Staff may be required to conduct an unclothed body search when directed by the warden/designee.
a) Staff search visitors according to search criteria outlined in Division Directive 301.010, “Searches.”
b) Before a pat search or unclothed body search, staff must complete the Visitor Notification of Search form (attached) or the Non-DOC Person Notification of Search form (attached); and provide a copy to the visitor for signature.
c) Failure to comply with the requested pat search and/or unclothed body search results in denial of the visit.
d) All facilities reserve the right to refuse visiting privileges for security reasons. This includes failure to abide by all visiting rules.
E. Visiting Room Procedures
1. For all facilities, excluding minimum custody, see the Statewide Visiting Room Rules (attached) for details. For minimum custody units see the Facility-Specific Visiting Room Rules online.
2. Visiting room staff must document a search of the visiting room(s) before and after visiting hours in the visiting room log. Visiting room logs are retained at each individual facility.
3. Offenders and visitors are held responsible for appropriate conduct (including the conduct of associated minors) during the visit.
a) The visiting room staff address offender and visitor conduct according to the standardized Visiting Restrictions for Offenders (attached) and Visiting Restrictions for Visitors (attached).
b) Violations may result in
(1) Visiting restrictions;
(2) Termination of the visit; and
(3) Discipline and criminal prosecution.
c) Visiting restrictions may be appealed to the Warden/designee within 15 days of receiving the written notification
4. If the offender or visitor leaves the visiting area for any reason without authorization, the visit is terminated.
5. All offenders are subject to search before entering the visiting area. Offenders are required to submit to an unclothed body search following each visit.
6. The facility provides a meal, which may be an interim meal, such as a bag lunch, for an offender who chooses to attend a visit during the offender’s scheduled meal time.
F. Visiting Restrictions
1. Offenders with abuse histories involving minors:
a) The caseworker of record reviews an offender’s documented sexual or physical abuse history by reviewing offender convictions, offense characteristics, and information obtained from the PSI, Minnesota Government Access (MGA) site, court web, revocation reports, investigation reports, and the victims unit. Caseworkers must review/update the Abuse Offender Categorizing form upon an offender’s:
(2) Release violation;
(3) Additional sentence(s); and
(4) As requested.
b) An offender with a documented sexual or physical abuse history involving minors (including Internet pornography) is assigned an abuse code at intake, indicating specific visiting restrictions.
c) Abuse codes used are listed on the Abuse Offender Categorizing form (attached).
d) The case manager provides the completed Abuse Offender Categorizing form to the offender and the visiting staff at the facility where the offender resides.
2. Appeal of abuse offender code
a) Offenders may appeal any decision regarding an assigned abuse category to the abuse review committee to include the case manager who initially assigned the abuse category.
b) The offender may request an appeal by sending a kite to the facility abuse review committee coordinator to review the current abuse code/visiting restriction.
c) The abuse appeal committee is directed by the warden/designee to review assigned abuse codes. The abuse review committee consists of
1) The psychological services director/designee;
2) Case manager;
3) Corrections program director; and
4) Visiting lieutenant/designee.
d) The offender may request an appeal
1) Within 15 days of his/her initial classification;
2) Upon completion of committee recommendations (e.g., programs, assignments); or
e) The abuse review committee considers the following factors during an abuse review appeal:
(1) For sex offenders, recommendations may be considered from the offender’s sex offender treatment team or the psychological services director/designee based on participation/completion of therapy or treatment revocation reports and investigation reports.
(2) For physical abuse offenders, recommendations may be considered from the psychological services director (e.g., based on participation in therapy, treatment, or anger management group).
(3) The offender’s behavior in the correctional facility (e.g., has he/she been assaultive or sexually inappropriate while incarcerated).
f) The abuse review committee uses the Abuse Offender – Visiting Restriction Appeal form (attached) to document appeal decisions.
g) An offender may submit a written appeal of the abuse review committee’s decision to the warden or designee within 15 days of receiving the committee’s written notice.
(1) The warden or designee provides the offender with a written response within 15 working days of receiving the offender’s appeal.
(2) This action is final.
3. Offenders on PSI hold status
a) An offender on PSI hold status, after 30 days, may request to visit with his/her minor dependent children through the offender’s case manager (follow Section C, above).
b) The case manager conducts an abuse review by utilizing MGA, court web, odyssey, and victim services unit.
c) The case manager e-mails the victim services unit the information to conduct an in-depth review with juvenile, family, and criminal courts:
(1) Name of custodial parent or guardian;
(2) Offender’s full name to include middle name;
(3) Offender identification number (OID);
(4) Offender’s date of birth;
(5) Child’s first and last name; and
(6) Child’s date of birth.
d) The victim services unit notifies the case manager with the courts’ findings.
e) The case manager uses all findings from using MGA, odyssey, court web, and the victim services unit to complete the Abuse Offender Categorizing form when applicable and denotes the following status:
1) If the visit is allowed, the offender on PSI hold status is assigned NC until sentenced by the courts.
2) If the offender is not allowed to have contact with minors, the offender is placed on no visits (NV) status.
f) Once the offender on PSI hold status is sentenced, the case manager conducts another abuse review and adjusts the abuse review category.
4. Segregation - all segregation visits are NC and pre-scheduled, as required by the facility.
5. Banned visitors
a) When there is a reason to believe that a visitor has initiated activities intended to subvert facility security, or has engaged in other suspicious and/or inappropriate conduct, the visiting room officer-in-charge provides the visitor with a Notice of Violation of Visiting Rules (attached) before the visitor leaves the facility, if possible.
b) A visiting staff person completes the Ban Notice (attached) to request a ban of the visitor and forwards the form to the visiting unit lieutenant.
c) The visitor is provided with written notification including the reason and the length of the ban.
d) The banned visitor may appeal to the warden or designee within 15 days of receiving the notice. Banned visitors are not allowed on the grounds of any Minnesota Correctional Facility (MCF).
e) At the conclusion of the ban period, the visitor must re-apply for visiting privileges.
f) Administrative bans
(1) Administrative bans are reviewed by administrative staff at the facility that is currently housing the offender.
(2) The facility warden confers with other wardens before making a final decision on an administrative ban.
(3) Bans are for a minimum of seven years. Administrative bans are not eligible for review until the ban reaches the seven-year anniversary date of the infraction.
g) Indefinite bans are reviewed by the non-contact committee at the request of the visitor following the first year, if applicable.
6. Non-contact visits
a) The non-contact committee may assign an NC status using the Non-Contact Visiting Notice (attached) when a more controlled environment is necessary to
(1) Protect the security and orderly operation of the facility;
(2) To prevent the introduction of contraband; and
(3) As an alternative to the ban of visiting privileges.
b) The duration of NC visiting status is determined by the department.
c) Offenders may be placed on NC visiting status for any of the following reasons:
(1) To keep visiting privileges intact for offenders while preventing contraband smuggling;
(2) As a restriction for offenders or their visitors who violated visiting rules;
(3) As an alternative to the ban of visiting privileges for offenders who have been convicted of the use of intoxicants and/or possession of contraband; and
(4) As an alternative for minor visitors to offenders who were convicted of offenses where the offenders sexually or physically abused minors (see Section F, above).
d) An offender may appeal the non-contact committee’s decision to the warden/designee within 15 days of receipt of notice of the restriction.
e) NC visits occur during regular visiting hours and are no longer than one hour in duration.
1) When offenders are first placed on NC status, visitors may visit without a 24-hour advance appointment for that visiting day.
2) All further visiting must be scheduled in advance to ensure the availability of space.
3) The facility may limit the length of these visits to accommodate scheduling needs.
G. Hospital Visits
1. In the event of a life threatening surgery, a terminal prognosis, or an extended admittance to a hospital of ten days or more, the offender may be permitted visitation from immediate family members and/or the offender’s emergency contact person (if these individuals are on the approved visiting list).
2. Please refer to Division Directive 301.096, “Medical Transportation” for details on visiting procedures for hospitalized offenders.
I. Removal of Visitor from Offender’s Visiting List
1. Visitors who no longer wish to be on an offender’s visiting list must send a letter requesting removal, to the facility where the offender is located.
2. Visitors removed from an offender’s visiting list may not reapply for visiting privileges until three months from the date of their last visit.
J. All signed, approved
forms are scanned into the offender document management system (ODocS). Other
documents are retained in offender files, as appropriate.
A. Visiting applications are retained electronically in EDS/COMS.
B. Approved visiting lists for each offender are maintained in COMS.
C. Visiting room logs are retained at the facility.
D. All signed, approved forms are scanned into the offender document management system (ODocS). Other documents are retained in offender files, as appropriate.
ACA STANDARDS: 4-4498 through 4-4503, 4-JCF-3A-01, 4-JCF-3A, 18, 4-JCF-3A-19, 4-JCF-3A-20, 1-ABC-5D-12 through 1-ABC-5D-14
REPLACES: Division Directive 302.100, “Visiting,” 2/17/17.
All facility policies, memos, or other communications whether verbal, written, or transmitted by electronic means regarding this topic.
ATTACHMENTS: Visiting Privilege Application form (English) (On DOC Public Website)
Visiting Privilege Application form (Spanish) (On DOC Public Website)
Visiting Restrictions for Offenders (English) (On DOC Public Website)
Visiting Restrictions for Offenders (Spanish) (On DOC Public Website)
Visiting Restrictions for Visitors (English) (On DOC Public Website)
Visiting Restrictions for Visitors (Spanish) (On DOC Public Website)
Abuse Offender Categorizing form (302.100D)
Abuse Offender - Visiting Restriction Appeal (302.100E)
Birth Certificate Documentation form (302.100F)
Minor Escort Authorization (English) (On DOC Public Website)
Minor Escort Authorization (Spanish) (On DOC Public Website)
Statewide Visiting Room Rules (English) (On DOC Public Website)
Statewide Visiting Room Rules (Spanish) (On DOC Public Website)
Notice of Violation of Visiting Rules (302.100L)
Ban Notice (302.100M)
Registration and Visiting Agreement (302.100N)
Visitor Application Denial Notice (302.100O)
Non-Contact Visiting Notice (302.100P)
Offender Notice (302.100Q)
Visitor Notification of Search form (301.010A)
Non-DOC Person Notification of Search form (301.010C)
Deputy Commissioner, Facility Services
Deputy Commissioner, Community Services
Assistant Commissioner, Facility Services
Assistant Commissioner, Operations Support