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Visiting a prisoner

Prisoners may receive visits from:

  • family
  • friends
  • lawyers and members of the legal profession
  • official visitors
  • religious visitors
  • chaplains.

Official visitors

Official visitors are specially appointed to visit prisoners regularly to help them manage and resolve any problems or complaints they may have.

Find out more about official visitors.

Lawyers and members of the legal profession

Lawyers and members of the legal profession can visit a prisoner they are helping, although this has to be pre-arranged with the prison authorities. Unlike visits from family and friends, there are normally no restrictions on how long legal visits last or how many legal visits a prisoner can have in a week.

A prisoner may also be able to phone specialist legal organisations for free such as the Prisoners' Legal Service, Legal Aid Queensland and the Queensland Ombudsman —who investigates complaints about government departments including prisons. Unlike calls to friends and family these calls will not have a prison officer listening in.

Family and friends

It is important that prisoners keep strong links with family and friends during their time in prison so we encourage you to visit them. A prisoner can normally have up to 2 hours of visiting time each week in addition to time with their lawyer.

Locating a prisoner

After arrest

When the police arrest and charge someone with a criminal offence they may be held in the local watch house before appearing in court.

People sentenced to a term of imprisonment by the court may also be held in a police watch house for several days before being transferred to a prison.

You can phone Policelink on 131 444 to find out if they are being held in a watch house.

After being moved to prison

Once the person has been moved to prison you can find out where they have been sent by:

Search for prison locations and contact details.

Contacting a prisoner

You can’t phone a prisoner, but in emergency situations we may pass a message on to them.

A prisoner can ask to have your phone number put on their approved call list—they can then phone you. Note: Your calls will be recorded.

Organising your visit

Applying for a prison visit

Before you visit, you must complete a Form 27—Application to Visit a Prisoner (Personal Visitor) and return it to the correctional centre you wish to visit. If you are unable to download the form, we can send it to you by mail.

The form requires that you:

The person in charge may approve a contact or non-contact visit. Contact visits are personal visits during which there is direct physical contact between you and the prisoner.

You will be security checked before you can have a contact visit, which can take a few weeks. In the meantime, you can request a non-contact visit.

Accepted ID

You can prove your identification by providing any 3 of the following:

  • a current debit card, credit card or bankbook with your name and signature
  • a current Medicare card
  • a current pension or other social security card
  • your birth certificate
  • an identification card, containing your photo issued by
    • the chief executive
    • a law enforcement agency
    • the Supreme Court
    • a State government entity
    • an educational facility
  • a letter that identifies you by name, signed by a member of an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander organisation
  • a statutory declaration witnessed by a Justice of the Peace or Commissioner for Declarations that identifies you by name and signature.

Your security clearance must be updated every 12 months. You must always bring your approved ID with you everytime you visit. If you do not have your approved ID, you will not be allowed to visit.

Children as visitors

You can apply to bring a child into the centre to visit by completing the relevant section on Form 27—Application to Visit a Prisoner (Personal Visitor) To be considered for approval, the child must have an established relationship with the prisoner and you must provide proof of the child's identity.

The person in charge must be satisfied that:

  • there are no court orders preventing contact between the child and the prisoner
  • a visit is in the child’s best interests.

They may decide to impose special conditions on the child’s visit, such as ordering a non-contact visit.

A child visitor must have any 1 of the identification documents identified above.

Booking a prison visit

Once you are approved, you can book a visit. You must book all personal visits in advance during nominated booking times. Every prison has its own system, so contact the prison for details and visiting times.

The prison keeps a register of all people who have been security cleared, including:

  • your full name
  • your date of birth
  • the date of your security check
  • your criminal history file number (if any)
  • the prisoner(s) you’re visiting.

Each prison has a different allowance for the number of people visiting and the length of your visit.  Most prisons allow either 1 visit for 2 hours or 2 visits for 1 hour each week.

Find information about centre visiting arrangements.

Rules and regulations

Smoking

All Queensland corrective services facilities are tobacco and smoke free. No smoking is permitted anywhere on the grounds of a corrective services facility (including car parks and walkways).

You can’t bring cigarettes and other smoking related products (including cigarette lighters, matches, papers and filters) into a corrective services facility.

If you don’t follow this rule, you may be:

  • asked leave the prison
  • suspended or refused visit access approval.

What to wear

There are very strict rules about what you can wear when visiting a prisoner.

You must wear:

  • proper shoes or sandals (no thongs)
  • clean clothes in good condition.

You can’t wear:

  • clothing that has obscene or discriminatory words on it
  • shirts without sleeves, including tank tops and singletsyy
  • short skirts or short shorts
  • very tight clothing
  • clothing that you can see through
  • clothing that is revealing.

You can wear your wedding or engagement ring, but you must remove all other jewellery before you enter the prison.

For more information, refer to the appropriate dress standards notice.

Prohibited items

There are a number of things you can’t take into prison. It is a criminal offence to bring them into prison. You can read what items you can’t take into prison in the Corrective Services Regulation 2006, s. 20 .

If an officer suspects you have any of these items on you, you can be detained and searched—this could be a frisk or full body search. Officers may also search your car. If a banned item is found you may be charged.

What you can give a prisoner

You cannot give the prisoner money, documentation, or personal items during your visit. However, you can bring items such as socks, singlets, underclothes and clothes for court.

These items must be approved beforehand and given to the Visits Processing Officers to be passed onto the prisoner. You will need to complete a hand-in form for the items to be accepted.

You can also mail cards, letters and photographs to the prisoner. Note: mail may opened, searched and censored.

Some centres allow you to deposit money into a prisoner’s account. If you would like to deposit money, speak to the Visits Processing Officers before your visit. You will need to bring the correct amount to your visit.

Entering the prison

Each prison has a visitor fact sheet that tells you when to arrive at your visit. If you’re late, you may not be allowed to enter. Always check the visiting times, as they may have changed since your last visit.

When you arrive, go to reception in the visits area to confirm your booking.

You may not be allowed to enter if you do not have the right identification, or the prison officer believes you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Security and searches

In many prisons, you may have to go through security screening with electronic drug detection devices or be checked by drug detection dogs. If you refuse to have a scan or search, or return a positive result to drugs, you may not be allowed to enter the prison or be limited to a non-contact visit.

During your visit

If you or the prisoner break the rules or behave in an inappropriate way, your visit may be stopped and you may be prevented from making future visits.

Keep an eye on your children at all times and make sure they don’t interfere with or disturb other visitors or prisoners during the visit.

You are also not allowed to:

  • remove anything from a prison
  • interview or photograph a prisoner or part of a prison facility.

Toilets

Toilets will be available before or after your visit in the administration building where you sign in. There may not be toilets available in the centre’s visiting area.

If there are toilets in the visiting area and you use them, we may end your visit or the rest of your visit may be non-contact. This will ensure that no prohibited items enter the prison.

Legal advice

Prisoners’ Legal Service Inc is a community legal centre that provides free legal advice to prisoners and their families. To contact them, phone (07) 3846 5074 or email pls@plsqld.com.

You may also get legal advice from Legal Aid Queensland by phoning 1300 65 11 88.