Frequent Questions

Inmate Visitation


Inmates may be allowed visits with approved visitors except where there is suspicion that such visitation would jeopardize the security, safety, or the disciplined operation of an institution. The decision of the warden is final regarding inmate visitation.

Please be advised that visitation may be delayed, suspended or cancelled because of security issues and some visitation schedules may be changed due to special activities or Parole Board hearings at certain times on certain days of the week. For example, no visits are held at the Jameson Annex to the Penitentiary on Monday and Wednesday of the third week of each month. However, evening visits are allowed on those days. If you are traveling from out of town, please call the facility control room to verify the visit schedules.



See DOC Policy 1.5.D.1 Inmate Visiting (About Us/Policies) for more detailed information on this topic.

How can I arrange to visit someone in prison?

The requesting inmate or prospective visitor must complete and submit a Visit List Verification form to the respective facility. All prospective visitors age 18 and older are required to provide their social security number to the DOC for purposes of conducting a criminal background check. Background checks are completed on any person wishing to visit an inmate. Exceptions are made for an attorney of record, provided the attorney presents their Certificate of Membership card to the State Bar Association and an accepted form of identification.

If prospective visitors do not wish to share their personal identification information (social security number, date of birth) with the inmate, they can complete the Visit List Verification form and send it directly to the facility where the inmate is housed. Personal identification information provided directly to the DOC by the prospective visitor will be treated as confidential and not released to the inmate.

Visit times vary by institution. Check the institution pages for a visit times schedule.

Who can visit an inmate in prison?

Eligible visitors include spouse, children (biological/step-children/legally adopted children), parents, siblings, step-brothers and step-sisters, step-parent, half-brothers and half-sisters, grandparents, great-grandparents, grandchildren, mother-in-law, father-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law and brother-in-law, legal guardian, attorney of record, M-2 or W-2 sponsors, AA or NA sponsors, recognized news media, clergy and friends (up to a maximum of four allowed). A person is considered a spouse only if marriage to the inmate is valid and in accordance with state law.

Each visitor (with the exception of children under the age of 16) is required to provide a valid (not expired or canceled) photo identification to control room staff prior to entrance into the facility/visit area. Acceptable forms of a photo ID include a state issued drivers license, passport, state issued ID, student ID, recognized SD tribal ID or a military ID. The ID card must include a photo of the visitor.

Are there limitations on visitation for those with a criminal record?

Persons with a criminal record must be approved for visitation by the Warden, Deputy Warden or their designee. This includes, but is not limited to, those on active parole, probation or other forms of conditional release (community program or furloughs) or those with pending charges.

A person convicted of a felony, including those who have received a suspended imposition of sentence, must be off supervision for a minimum of three years before being considered eligible to visit an inmate.

A person convicted of a misdemeanor may be required to wait a minimum of 90 days after completing jail time, term of probation or final payment of any fine before they can be considered eligible to visit an inmate.

Persons with a criminal record may be granted an exception to visit by the Warden, Deputy Warden or their designee after review of the nature and extent of the person's total criminal history and any recent criminal activity.

Present or former inmates of the SDDOC may not be on the visit list of the inmate, unless approved by the Warden, Deputy Warden or their designee.

A victim of the present or past crime(s) of the inmate will not be allowed to visit without approval of the Warden, Deputy Warden or their designee.

Former DOC staff members (including contractual staff and volunteers) are not allowed to visit an inmate without prior approval of the Warden, Deputy Warden or their designee.


Are there different types of visits?

There are two classes of visits. A Class I visit is conducted in a visiting area or a designated visiting area of an adult DOC facility during which limited physical contact is allowed between the inmate and the visitor.

A Class II visit is a visit conducted with the inmate physically separated from the visitor in a glassed-off section of a designated visiting area. No physical contact between the inmate and visitor is allowed. Class II visits must be scheduled in advance.

A private area is normally available for attorney or clergy visits.

GTL video visitation services are now live at the Womens Prison campus, the Sioux Falls campus, Mike Durfee State Prison, the Yankton Community Work Center and the Rapid City Community Work Center.

Are any special visits allowed?

Special visits involve anyone not on the approved visit list, anyone who is unable to visit during scheduled visiting hours or other visit requests requiring special arrangements. All special visits require prior approval from the warden or their designee.

Inmates, with the exception of those in Admissions and Orientation, are allowed a total of four special visits per calendar year.

The inmate requesting the special visit, or the prospective visitor(s), must complete and submit a Special Visit Request Form. Each prospective visitor must be included on the form.


What if an inmate is hospitalized? Can I still visit them?

If the Warden or designee approves in advance, a hospitalized inmate may receive visits from immediate family, an Attorney of Record or clergy. All visitors must be on the approved visit list of the inmate or approved through a Special Visit Request. Hospital visits are subject to provisions of DOC policy, in addition to all hospital guidelines and rules pertaining to patient visits.

Security staff may be assigned to the hospitalized inmate. They will assure the visit has been authorized.


Are conjugal visits allowed?


What items can I bring/not bring to a visit?

Some of the common items allowed at a visit include legal materials with prior permission, cash ($1 bills and change) for vending machines, bottles of baby formula, diapers, and receiving blankets.

You must bring proper identification in order to visit an inmate.

Some of the common items not allowed at a visit include tobacco products, cell phones/cameras/pagers, electronic and recording devices, watches and smart watches, medications, handbags, wallets, magazines/newspapers/books, toys, photo albums, lighters, and food stuffs. See the lists posted at each facility for more items not allowed during a visit.

Lockers are available to visitors to store their coats and valuables.

Visitor contraband memorandum

Are visitors searched prior to visiting with an inmate?

Yes. Visitors are subject to metal detectors and hand pat searches prior to entering, during or when leaving the visit area. DOC canines, Ion scanners or electronic devices may be used to detect the presence of controlled substances or narcotics. Refusal to be searched may result in the termination of visiting privileges.


Are there rules on what I should wear when I visit an inmate?

Yes. Visitors must dress in an appropriate manner for their age and gender. Apparel such as shorts or culottes, mini-skirts, see-through tops, halter, tube, tank or midriff tops, swimsuits, and any form of revealing clothing are not appropriate for visitors. Visitors must wear footwear at all times. Adult female visitors must wear a bra.

Failure to adhere to the dress code will result in a visit being denied.


Are there limits on visits?

The number of visitors and inmates permitted in the visit room and/or length of visits may be limited by the facility's schedule and/or space and personnel constraints. Additionally, visits may be limited due to adverse weather conditions, facility physical plant issues, an ongoing or emergency construction project that affects the visit area, disruption of essential facility computer issues or other emergency situations that may affect the security, safety or disciplined operation of the facility.

Persons representing a potential health hazard (i.e. communicable disease) to offenders, staff or others may be denied visitation until the health hazard is addressed.

Visits may be limited, suspended or terminated if:
a visitor is found to be in possession of an alcoholic beverage or a controlled or unauthorized substance(s);

a visitor refuses to be searched;
a visitor fails to produce an accepted form of ID or fails to abide by the facility rules, including using loud/abusive language or sexual behavior/actions;

a visitor refuses to prevent their children from disturbing other individuals in the visit area;

a visitor leaves the visit area for any reason, other than as directed or approved by staff;

the inmate refuses the visit;
there is information that a visitor is attempting to smuggle contraband into or out of the facility;

the visitor is determined to have a detrimental effect on the inmate;

the visitor poses a threat to the security/safety of the facility, staff and others; or

the visitor engages in excessive physical contact.

Physical contact between inmates and visitors is limited. Only a brief kiss on the cheek, hug or handshake at the beginning and/or end of the visit is allowed. Hand holding between the inmate and visitor is allowed provided it is in plain sight of staff monitoring the visits.