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Visiting a prisoner

Queensland Corrective Services recognises the importance of visits to prisoners. This page explains the types of visits and the need to apply for visits to a prisoner.

Prisoners may receive visits from:

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

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 1 hour of visiting time each week in addition to time with their lawyer. Visits may be contact or non-contact.

Virtual Personal Visits (VPVs) are also available. New visitors seeking a VPV must go through the same application process as visitors to a centre.

Learn more about applying to visit a prisoner.

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

Legal professionals  can visit a prisoner they are representing, although this must 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.

Organising your visit

Applying for a prison visit

Before you visit, you must complete a personal visitor application (Form 27) and return it to the correctional centre you wish to visit.

If you can’t download the form, we can send it to you by mail. If you need us to send you a Form 27, please email your request to StatewideOperationsCommunications@corrections.qld.gov.au.

The form requires you to:

The person in charge may approve a contact, non-contact or virtual visit. Contact visits are personal visits during which there is direct physical contact between you and the prisoner. Unforeseen circumstances (e.g. COVID-19) may require correctional centres to place temporary restrictions on visits.

You will be security checked before you can have a contact visit, which can take up to 6 weeks. In the meantime, you can request a non-contact visit or virtual visit.

Accepted ID

You can prove your identity by providing any 3 of the below (all forms of ID must be current—expired ID will not be accepted):

  • debit card, credit card or bankbook with your name and signature
  • Medicare card
  • driver licence
  • pension or other social security card
  • birth certificate
  • passport
  • an identification card, containing your photo, issued by
    • 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 bring your approved ID with you every time 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 the personal visitor application (Form 27). 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 impose special conditions on the child’s visit, such as requiring a non-contact visit.

An application for a child visitor must include any 1 of the identification documents listed 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. They allow visits for an hour at a time each week due to social distance regulations.

Find information about centre visiting arrangements.

Rules and regulations

Smoking

All Queensland corrective services facilities are tobacco and smoke free. No smoking is allowed 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 fail to follow this rule, you may be:

  • asked to 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:

  • any clothing displaying racist or derogatory slogans, motorcycle gang colours or clothing with gang insignias
  • see through garments, including garments that expose underwear
  • clothes that are excessively torn, stained, dirty, ripped or frayed
  • steel capped boots
  • high heels (heels are to be no higher than 5cm)
  • any jewellery other than wedding and engagement rings
  • swimsuits
  • hair scrunchies or clips (only single elasticated hair ties are allowed)
  • internet enabled watches (i.e. smartwatches).

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

It is a criminal offence to take certain items into a prison. You can read what items you can’t take into prison in the Corrective Services Regulation 2017 s 19.

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 like 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 be opened, searched and censored. At high security centres, there are rules which do not permit certain items to be included in mail (e.g. items which contain glitter, glue or stickers). If in doubt, contact the correctional centre before posting an item.

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.

Transfer of money

For safety and security purposes, we cannot accept cash payments for prisoners by ordinary or privileged mail.

Any payments to prisoners must be facilitated, preferably by Secure Payment Services. Payment may also be made by money order or cheque.

Entering the prison

Each prison has a visitor fact sheet that tells you when to arrive for 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 don’t have the right identification, or if the prison officer believes you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Storage lockers or other appropriate storage facilities are provided at high security centres to allow the storage of personal items that are not permitted to be brought into a secure facility.

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 cancelled, 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 are 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 ensures that no prohibited items enter the prison.

COVID-19 information

To ensure the safety of our correctional centres during the COVID-19 pandemic, visit restrictions are now in place at all Queensland prisons.

Read the most up-to-date information about prison visits.

All visitors must wear face masks and hand sanitiser is available at all entry and exit points.

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.

Legal advice may also be available from Legal Aid Queensland by phoning 1300 65 11 88.

More information

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