Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

Family Guide - Frequently Asked Questions


My loved one has been incarcerated. How do I find him or her?

Computerized Offender information is available on the Department’s website at www.doccs.ny.gov using our Inmate Lookup service. If you do not have access to the internet, you can call (518) 457-5000 during normal business hours.

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Do I need prior approval before my first visit?

No. The Watch Commander, a security supervisor in charge of a particular shift, will allow initial visits for persons not on an Offender’s approved visitor record as long as you have proper identification and the Offender agrees to the visit. As a first-time visitor, you will be required to sign a statement indicating that you have been advised of and agree to abide by the rules and regulations regarding visiting. Please note that your registration information will be entered in a database so that future visits will be much easier.

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Can I send cash directly to an Offender?

Yes. However, it is highly recommended that you send a money order or certified check payable to the Offender, as opposed to cash. Please include the Offender’s full name and Department Identification Number (DIN).

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Can I send an Offender an e-mail message?

No. Offenders do not have access to e-mail or internet services.

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Can I place a telephone call to an Offender?

No. Offenders cannot receive telephone calls. However, if an emergency arises, you should call the facility and speak to the Offender’s Offender Rehabilitation Coordinator, a facility Chaplain, or the Watch Commander.

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Can Offenders phone their family or friends?

Offenders are allowed to make collect calls from designated pay phones located in all facilities. Offenders are allowed to have 15 phone numbers on their approved phone list at any time. Telephone numbers are added or removed from the Offender’s phone list by request of the Offender only. Please note that all phone calls may be monitored. Call forwarding and third-party calls are not allowed. Calls to cell phones, pagers, and 800 numbers are not allowed.

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Will I be informed if my loved one is sick?

If the Offender is admitted to an outside hospital, notification will be made to persons designated by the Offender. Please Note: Offenders have the authority to decline notification.

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Can I visit a hospitalized Offender, either in the facility hospital or in an outside hospital?

Yes. Facility Hospital - Offenders may be visited for limited periods of time by persons on their visitor record, an attorney, or authorized individual. Outside Hospital - Offenders may receive visitors only with the permission of the doctor, and within the rules of the hospital. Visiting times are only during the regular hospital visiting hours, and will not exceed two hours, unless the Offender is on the critical list. A person can visit an inmate in the hospital if on the visiting record and with the Superintendent permission. All persons requesting to visit an inmate in the outside hospital need to receive permission from the Superintendent if approved, visitor will be subject to the visitors rules and regulations.

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What if someone close to my loved one dies or is very sick?

It is recommended that facility staff be contacted as soon as possible so that the Offender may be notified in an appropriate manner and provided with pastoral care and counseling. As soon as possible, contact the facility where the Offender is located and speak with the Chaplain, Supervising Offender Rehabilitation Coordinator, or the Watch Commander. It is the family’s responsibility to notify the facility as soon as possible in the event of grave illness or death of an Offender’s relative.

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Is there any bus transportation that will take me directly to the prison?

Due to the variations in bus availability, you are encouraged to contact the individual correctional facility regarding transportation.

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How can I find directions to the facility?

Please refer to the addresses of state correctional facilities. The DOCS website gives directions to correctional facilities from Albany, New York. Directions may also be obtained through Map Quest on the internet or by calling the correctional facility.

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What do I need to bring in order to visit?

Proper identification and permission, if required (i.e., you are a minor). Additional information can be found in the section on Visitation.

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Can I visit if I am on parole or probation?

Probationers and Parolees must have the prior permission of the Superintendent and the written permission of their probation or parole officer.

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What am I allowed to bring into the visiting room?

You are allowed to bring in money for the vending machines and for purchasing photos where that service is available. You will also be allowed baby supplies if you have a baby with you. Visiting Guidelines

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What do I do with my prescription medication?

Visitors who have medication in their possession shall declare and relinquish it to the gate officer. Medications shall be identified and stored in a secure area. If a visitor needs the medication during the visiting period, it may be obtained as directed by the facility.

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Can I bring a care package for my loved one to a visit?

Yes, you may bring a package for your loved one. The package must be presented at the front gate prior to the visit. Remember, you cannot give anything to an Offender during the visit without permission. Please refer to the section on Packages and to Appendix C for further information. If you want to leave money, a money order or check can be left at the appropriate area. You are discouraged from leaving cash. The maximum amount allowed per visit is $50.00.

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What days am I allowed to visit and for how long?

See Visiting Days and Times.

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What is contraband?

Contraband is any article that is not to be possessed by an Offender. This includes, but is not limited to: weapons, alcohol, illegal drugs (including marijuana) money, cell phones, and chewing gum. Any visitor found in possession of illegal drugs or weapons will be reported to the proper authorities for prosecution. Contraband details

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How can my loved one get a visit with their child who is currently in foster care?

Foster care visits are managed between the agency that oversees and has jurisdiction of the foster child and the facility they plan to visit. Generally, the facility contact person is the Offender’s assigned Offender Rehabilitation Coordinator.

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How can my loved one get transferred to a facility closer to home?

The Office of Classification and Movement in Central Office oversees transfers. Your loved one should contact their assigned Offender Rehabilitation Coordinator to address any concerns about transferring.

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How can I marry a person who is incarcerated?

To begin the process, you and your loved one must send a letter requesting permission to marry to the Superintendent of the facility. The Superintendent will then inform the Guidance Unit, and if a legal marriage is approvable, the process will proceed.

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How do Offnders spend their time in prison?

Offenders participate in required treatment, educational/vocational training, work and recreation programs unless they are physically unable or constrained by the following circumstances: intake/transfer processing, keep-locked status, administrative segregation, or court hearings. Treatment programs include Alcohol and Substance Treatment (ASAT), RSAT (Residential Substance Abuse Treatment), CASAT (Comprehensive Alcohol Substance Abuse Treatment), Aggression Replacement Training (ART) and Sex Offender Program (SOP). Educational/vocational programs include Adult Basic Education (ABE), GED preparation, and various vocational trainings including custodial building maintenance, computer repair, horticulture, and welding, to name a few. Examples of work assignments include food preparation, ground maintenance, as well as industry production and services.

Families and friends are encouraged to support their loved one to use their time constructively and to follow through with their prescribed program plan in a positive manner.

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