Visiting policy for adult correctional facilities
Learn about the rules and what to expect when visiting an inmate at a provincial adult correctional facility in Ontario.
On this page Skip this page navigation
It is important for inmates to receive visits from family, friends and others. Visits improve inmate morale and can help contribute to their rehabilitation and successful reintegration into the community.
Correctional services staff must maintain the security of the facility during visits. They will take precautions to prevent contraband and behaviour that might affect personal safety.
Visiting hours and schedule
Visiting hours are normally held for a minimum of four hours each day, seven days a week. There are some allowances for evening visits during the week. For example, visits may be extended because of:
- the distance a visitor has to travel
- other compelling reasons, such as compassionate and humanitarian reasons
Due to space limitations, some facilities may require you to book your visit in advance.
When we develop a visiting schedule, correctional services staff consider:
- reasonable access by family, friends and others
- the availability of public transport
- the scheduling of institutional programs and activities
Special visits over and above allowed visitations may be granted by the superintendent, particularly in circumstances involving:
- compassionate grounds
- out of town visitors
- relatives who are unable to visit during regular hours
Inmates are allowed visits during reasonable hours from:
- legal counsel
- leaders of recognized interdenominational or faith groups
- probation and parole officers
- institutional liaison officers
- assistant area managers
- other authorized persons
These are allowed to take place in designated areas.
Limits on the number of visitors
There are limits on the number of visitors an inmate may have at one time. These limits are in place to:
- prevent crowding in the visiting room
- eliminate supervision difficulties
Space in the visitation room is allocated on a first come, first served basis.
The superintendent determines the number of visitors an inmate may receive at one time and the length of visits. They may also approve emergency visits in addition to, the normal visiting schedule.
Designated visiting areas
Visits only take place in designated visitation areas. Staff supervise visits at all times.
Unless visitors have permission from the superintendent, visitors are not allowed to:
- sketch or take photographs
- receive, give, trade, sell or buy any article to or from an inmate
A lawyer visiting area is available to make sure communications between inmates and legal counsel stays private. This area is subject to general staff supervision. Supervision should not be conducted in a manner that allows the conversation between a lawyer and client to be overheard.
Visitors entering an institution
Visitors must provide acceptable personal government identification before entering.
If you wear a garment for cultural, spiritual or religious reasons (such as a head or face covering) which make identification confirmation difficult, procedures will be put in place to confirm your identity while respecting your personal rights.
Staff complete a visitor’s register before you enter the visiting area. To make sure visitor and inmate information remains private:
- visitors don’t have to sign the register
- visitors cannot view the register
Visitors are not allowed to enter any location in the institution except:
- the visiting room
- public washrooms
- the approved route to the visiting area
All visitors may be subject to a search before they are allowed to visit an inmate. Staff may visually inspect the contents of a visitor’s:
Before entering the visiting area, visitors may be asked to leave purses, bags and packages in secure lockers.
Inmates are searched before and after all visits.
Visitors are not allowed to bring electronics into the institution, including:
- cellphones and smartphones
- computers, tablets and laptops
- other electronic devices
Signs are prominently displayed institution entrances to remind visitors of this requirement.
Refusing a search
If a visitor refuses a search or, despite a search, there is still reasonable cause to suspect that a visitor is carrying contraband, the visitor will be denied access to the institution and will be asked to leave the premises.
Accommodating individual needs
We will accommodate the needs of individuals in accordance with the Human Rights Code to the point of undue hardship.
Any accommodation requests are assessed on a case by case basis.
Denying or ending visits
A visit may be denied or ended under the following circumstances:
- visitor is under the influence of drugs, alcohol or another substance
- sufficient visiting space is not available
- refusal by an inmate or visitor to submit to search procedures
- refusal or failure to produce acceptable personal identification, or the visitor falsifying identifying information
- violation of institutional rules by a visitor or inmate
- failure to prevent children from disturbing other people in the visiting area
- conduct is deemed to be disruptive to the security, safety and good order of the institution
- a judicial order exists that restrains contact between the inmate and visitor
- the inmate refuses the visit
The approved procedures for visits are posted in a place where visitors can access them. Staff also communicate these procedures to inmates through the Inmate Information Guide, which is accessible to inmates upon request.
All visiting privileges may be suspended in response to a serious security concern or medical quarantine at the institution.
Visits for intermittent inmates
Intermittent inmates are inmates that are in custody for only limited periods each week. They are offered access to public visits where operationally possible.
Segregation and health care
Inmates in segregation conditions will continue to receive visits according to the standard visiting policy, unless the superintendent determines otherwise.
Health care staff will be consulted regarding visiting arrangements for inmates under medical care.
Visits by minors
The superintendent decides if children under the age of 16 can visit. They consider each application individually and based on its own merits.
All children under the age of 16 must follow the visiting routines and practices of the institution.
Children who do not follow the routines or who disrupt the visits of other persons will be required to leave the facility.
Except in extenuating or unusual circumstances, children under 16 accompanied by an adult are allowed to visit an inmate.
The names of all children and accompanying adults are recorded in the visitor’s register.
Except in extenuating or unusual circumstances, unaccompanied children under 16 are not allowed to visit without the prior approval of the superintendent.
If an inmate wants a visit from an unaccompanied child under the age of 16, the inmate needs to submit a written request to the superintendent in advance of the anticipated visit. This will give the superintendent time to make a decision about the visit and tell the inmate what they decided.
It is the inmate’s responsibility to inform the intended visitor whether the visit has been approved or denied.
When the visit takes place, it is recorded in the visitor’s register.
Extenuating or unusual circumstances may arise that require taking alternative action. In these situations, the superintendent is advised and approval or denial is based on the individual merits of each case.