Simon Says

Bringing clarity to the inner workings of our legal system

What can I expect during a prison visit?

Every institution has slightly different procedures for prison visits, but the following points apply to many institutions:


  1. You’ll have to sign in at the entrance—make sure you have photo ID.


  1. If you have any unauthorized property, you’ll need to lock it up. Some institutions have lockers—bring a quarter to use one.


  1. A correctional officer may swab your clothing or accessories, which is run through an IONSCAN device to test for drugs. If drugs are found, then you may be denied entry or required to have closed visits.


  1. You’ll likely be asked to go through a metal detector, requiring you to remove your coat and metal accessories.


  1. Authorized items (like medical devices or religious objects) may be searched.


  1. Drug detection dogs may also be brought out—you’ll be asked to stand still as they circle around you.


  1. Once you get to the visiting area, you may have to wait awhile for the inmate to be brought down.


  1. Every visitor can be searched in a non-intrusive manner. You can only be strip searched if a staff member believes on reasonable grounds that you have unauthorized items or contraband on you and that the strip search is necessary to find the contraband/evidence. Note that you can be charged if you bring contraband into the institution—even if it’s in your car in the parking lot.


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.