Frequent Questions

Inmate Visitation

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


Inmates may be allowed visits with approved visitors except where there is suspicion that such visitation would jeopardize the security, safety, or other legitimate penological interests of the department. The Warden has final authority to approve, restrict, limit or deny  inmate visits.

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.


How can I arrange to visit someone in prison?

The requesting inmate must complete and submit a Visit List Verification form. Persons wishing to visit the inmate must contact that inmate. Visitors are not permitted to request the DOC add them to an inmate's visit list. 

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 or check with the facility.

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, aunt, uncle, 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) government issued photo identification to control room staff prior to entrance into the facility. Acceptable forms of a photo ID include a state issued drivers license, passport, state issued ID, student ID, recognized SD tribal ID, military ID or U.S. Dept. of Justice Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) ID. The ID card must include a photo of the visitor and an expiration date.

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

Yes. Persons on parole, probation or other form of conditional release and those with pending criminal charges, are generally not permitted to have contact visits with an inmate. See DOC Policy 1.5.D.1 for more information.

Immediate family members convicted of a felony, including those serving a Suspended Imposition of Sentence, may be eligible for visits after one (1) year has elapsed since the sentence was discharged. The Warden or their designee may waive or modify this waiting period, provided the crime was non-violent, as defined in South Dakota Codified Law. Certain restrictions may still apply, such as limited or non-contact visits or video visitation only.

A person convicted of a misdemeanor may be required to wait a minimum of 90 days after expiration of the sentence 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.

Inmates may not visit a victim of their crime unless prior approval is received by the Warden or their designee.

Former DOC staff members (including contractual staff and volunteers) are not allowed to visit an inmate unless they are an immediate family member of the inmate. There must be clear demonstration that the visit will benefit the inmate. The Warden or their designee will make this determination on a case-by-case basis.


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. Visitors must be on the approved visit list of the inmate to participate in a video visit unless an exception is made by the Warden or Deputy Warden. See DOC policy 1.5.D.1 Inmate Visiting for rules on video visitation. Video visits may be terminated or interrupted for inappropriate conduct.

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 are allowed a total of four special visits per calendar year.

The inmate requesting the special visit 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 and the attending physician/care provider approves, 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, directives and any applied restrictions set by the Warden or their designee 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. Inappropriate dress may cause a visit to denied or curtailed.

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

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.