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.

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 16 and older are required to provide their social security number to the DOC for purposes of conducting a criminal background check. 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.

Background checks are completed on any person wishing to visit an inmate. An attorney of record is not required to have a background check conducted, provided the attorney presents their Certificate of Membership card to the State Bar Association and an accepted form of identification.


Who can visit an inmate in prison?

Eligible visitors include spouse, children, step-children, parents, siblings, step-brothers and step-sisters, step-parent, half-brothers and half-sisters, grandparents, great-grandparents, 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 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.

Visitors under the age of eighteen (18) must be accompanied by a social worker, non-incarcerated custodial parent or guardian or a responsible immediate family member who is over the age of 18 and on the approved visit list.

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 driver's 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.

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


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

Persons with a criminal record must be approved for visitation by the 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 must wait a minimum of one year 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 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 an inmate's visit list, unless approved by the Deputy Warden or their designee.

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

Former DOC staff members (including contractual staff and volunteers) will not be allowed to visit an inmate without prior approval of the 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. Visitors talk to the inmates via telephone. All Class II visits must be scheduled in advance.

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

Inmates at Mike Durfee State Prison in Springfield are taking part in a pilot program that allows them to have video visits with approved family members and friends through Skype. Computers complete with webcams, audio speakers and headphones are set up in Science Hall. A staff member monitors all of the video visits. See the MDSP page for additional information. Segregation inmates are not eligible for the video visits.

Are any special visits allowed?

Special visits involve anyone not on the inmate's 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 must arrange for a special visit through staff four (4) days prior to that person showing up for a visit.

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, Deputy Warden, Senior Security Officer or designee approves, a hospitalized inmate may receive visits from immediate family, an Attorney of Record or clergy. All visitors must be on the inmate's approved visit list or approved through a Special Visit Request.

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

Are conjugal visits allowed?

No. Conjugal visits are not 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, 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. 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 matter. 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 over the age of ten (10). 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.