Simon Says

Bringing clarity to the inner workings of our legal system

6 Things to know about private family visits (PFVs)

  1. What are private family visits (PFVs)?

PFVs are visits that occur in a prison, but in separate areas inside the prison where inmates can privately visit with family members or those the inmate has a close personal relationship with. These visits are for up to 72 hours every 2 months.

  1. Who is eligible?

Offenders are eligible unless they are: at risk for family violence, participating in unescorted temporary absences for family contact purposes, in the Special Handling Unit (or recommended or approved for transfer to it), or in disciplinary segregation at the time of the PFV.

  1. Who can visit?

Immediate family and individuals the inmate has a “close personal relationship” with. Children can visit is there is an adult supervising.

  1. How do offenders get PFVs?

Offenders fill out an application. A Correctional Officer will review the application, possibly conduct an interview with the visitor and complete a Community Assessment, and then do a Threat Risk Assessment.

The Correctional Manager then reviews the application and makes a recommendation to the decision-maker (this may be the Institutional Head or someone designated by the Institutional Head). Recommendations and decisions are provided to the offender.

  1. What happens if an offender with PFVs is transferred to another institution?

If an offender was approved for PFVs before being transferred, a Correctional Officer will review the approval decision and make a recommendation about whether the PFVs should continue. Unless there have been significant changes, a new Threat Risk Assessment is not required.

  1. Can CSC stop a visit once PFVs have been approved?

CSC may suspend or refuse visits. This may occur, for example, if there are reasonable grounds to believe there is a risk to the security of the penitentiary or any person, or that a crime would be committed. If restrictions cannot be put on the visit in a way that would manage the risk, the visit may be cancelled. The Institutional Head or designate has broad authority to cancel or suspend visits for other reasons as well.

Inmates and visitors receive written reasons to explain why PFVs have been refused or suspended, and they can ask for a review within five days. After PFVs are suspended or refused, an offender can reapply and a re-assessment of the risk will be done after 6 months (or sooner if new information is obtained).

Past performance is not indicative of future results, and outcomes will vary according to the facts of individual cases. This site is intended for information purposes only. None of the information on this site should be considered “legal advice.” Information on this website (including blog posts and answers to frequently asked questions) is the opinion of the author only and is not warrantied or guaranteed to be an exhaustive, definitive, or accurate statement of the law. The proper interpretation and application of the law must always be done on a case specific basis; therefore, you should not rely on the general information on this site as a substitute for proper legal research or the advice of a licenced lawyer.