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Old 04-08-2004, 06:55 PM
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kezcat kezcat is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2003
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Post Rules for visiting an inmate in a NSW Prison

This list of visiting rules comes from the NSW Department of Corrective Services website. I hope it will be of help to anyone who wishes to visit a loved one in a NSW prison.

As your PTO Research Assistant (Australian/NZ forum) if you have any questions for me, please feel free to ask, and I will do my best to help you.

The department welcomes family and friends who wish to visit inmates in New South Wales Correctional Centres.

You can help us make your visit more pleasant by getting to know the simple rules that apply. The rules are in place to ensure that the security of the centre is not compromised and that everyone can enjoy their visit.

This site includes some useful information and handy hints for all visitors but you should also be aware that some things, such as visiting times, will vary from centre to centre.

If you are visiting a maximum or medium security centre you must telephone the centre to book a visit. You should telephone again to check with the centre on the day of your visit. It is not necessary to book a visit to a minimum security centre, however you must still telephone before you wish to visit the centre.

If you are unsure of the whereabouts of the person you wish to visit you should contact the inmate placement officer on 9289 5135 between 10.am - 6.pm or after hours on 9289 5142.

Please take this opportunity to become familiar with general visits information and then access the site of the specific centre you intend to visit to check visiting times and the services on offer at that centre.

We hope each of your visits is a pleasant, positive experience for you and your family member or friend.

Why visit?
The purpose of family and friends visiting an inmate is to maintain family ties so that it is easier for inmates to adjust to life back in the community when they are released.

In the context of a correctional centre environment, it is also important that each inmate maintains positive relationships with family and friends to ease their adjustment to centre life.

Most inmates want to receive visits and look forward to visiting times as an important way to catch up on news and to give and receive reassurances from family members and friends.

Who can visit?
Visits from family members, friends, community groups and church representatives are welcomed and encouraged.

An inmate can have up to four adults visiting at one time. An adult visitor must accompany children under 18.

Some female correctional centres have special child visit days and you should ring the centre to find out these times and days.

If you're on parole or community based work release, you need to be a member of the inmate's immediate family to be allowed to visit. Your suitability as a visitor will be assessed and entry could be refused.

How to prepare for a visit
Visiting hours at New South Wales correctional centres vary - so contact the centre to find out when they are. The centre will also be able to tell you how long your visit will be and how often you can visit.

At most centres, you will need to call and make an appointment for your visit. If there is an emergency such as the serious illness or death of a family member, special visiting arrangements may be made by contacting the centre. In special circumstances the Governor may approve a visit by an unaccompanied 16 or 17 year old young person.

Make sure you arrive in good time for your visit. Plan to arrive at least 30 minutes ahead of your scheduled visit. Go straight to the main gate. If it is your first visit, gate staff will give you directions to the visits reception area.

Do not attempt to visit a centre if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol because you will be refused entry.

On each visit you will be required to provide identification.

The Department will accept one of the following forms of identification:

Current photographic driver's license issued by any State or Territory of Australia;
Proof of Age card available from the RTA;
Current passport or one within two years of expiry date; or
Any current photo identity issued by a Australian Government Department or Authority.

The Department will accept any three of the following forms of identification:

An original or extract of birth certificate;
An electoral roll enrolment card or other evidence of enrolment;
A public utility record issued within six months of the date of intended visit e.g. a telephone, gas or electricity bill, or a water rates, council rates or land valuation notice;
A current vehicle or boat registration notice;
A marriage certificate;
Australian naturalisation or citizenship document or immigration papers issued by the Commonwealth government;
A current entitlement card issued by an Australian Government Department or Authority; or
A credit or debit card with the holder's signature.
What to bring - or leave behind - when visiting
This depends on which centre you are visiting, but as a general rule bring as little as possible to a visit. In the maximum security centres, you will not be able to take anything in. This includes wallets, purses, money, watches, jewelry, cigarettes, food or drinks, sunglasses or prams.

At the lower security centres, you may be allowed to take some of those items in with you, so It's best to ring and check with the centre first.

It's a good idea to leave any valuable items such as jewelry or large amounts of cash at home. At most centres, there will be visitors' lockers for personal items. You may leave a pram or stroller in an area of the visitor processing centre.

You may take some money for an inmate however this cannot be given directly to the person you are visiting. The way you can put money into an inmate's account will vary between centres, so you will need to telephone before your visit for more information.

The Department will not take responsibility for any item lost or stolen during your visit.

People who want to get an illegal item or substance into a prison sometimes try to avoid taking it in themselves - if you are pressured by anyone to take anything into a center illegally, contact the police or the Department.

Unless you know your relative or friend has permission to receive photographs from you during a visit, do not bring them into the centre.

Legal documents may be taken into the centre for a signature, by prior agreement with the officer in charge.

What to expect
Visiting times are very busy times at any centre. Some centres have up to 1400 visitors every week - so it's best to ask any questions you might have before your visit.

For most inmates the visiting period is a very happy time but it's often a very emotional time for you and the person you're visiting, so knowing what to expect and preparing properly for a visit can make for an easier, happier time.

On the day of your visit, the person you are visiting will arrive at the visiting area. The area will have tables and chairs. If you have children with you they're welcome to sit on your lap or, if you are making a contact visit, on the inmate's lap. As you will appreciate, there may be some restrictions or conditions put on visits from children if the inmate has been charged or convicted of an offence against children and in some cases children are not allowed to sit on the inmate's lap.

The children you bring are your responsibility and, to be courteous to other inmates and their visitors, it is requested that you ensure children are not disruptive in the visiting area or you may be asked to leave.

You can kiss the person you are visiting when you arrive and leave and you may hold hands during a contact visit but any inappropriate behaviour will attract the attention of the supervising officer and you may be asked to leave.

You may not join any other group visiting at the same time even if you know them. If you wish to visit more than one inmate at the centre you need to book a separate visit time. Upon request, and with the approval of the Governor, in special circumstances you may be able to visit with two related inmates at the same time.

How often, and for how long, you're allowed to visit will vary from centre to centre so check before you visit. The Visits Officer will let you know when your time is up and you need to leave.

As a courtesy to visitors arriving after you, make sure you clean your table and allocated area and put away any toys or books your children may have been using.

Some visitors try to bring dangerous or prohibited materials into prisons. Be aware that anyone, including children and babies, may be searched. There are four kinds of searches - visual; electronic scanning or detecting, dog drug detection and strip search. The strip search won't involve you being touched at all but you will be required to remove all your clothing and there will be a thorough check for any drugs or banned items. Strip searches are carried out as quickly as possible in private by two officers of the same sex as you and with due regard for your dignity. A female officer, in the presence of their parent or guardian, carries out, strip searches of young children or babies.

You may be searched on the way into or out of a centre. All searches are authorised under the Crimes (Administration of Sentences) Act 1999 and associated regulations.

You should also be aware that drug detector dogs operate in centres. Video cameras also operate in most centres and you may be filmed.

If you're caught trying to bring a banned substance or item into a centre, you may be charged and banned from visiting any correctional centre in New South Wales.

What's expected of you
To ensure the security of the prison is not compromised and to make the visit time pleasant for everyone - including other prisoners and their visitors - there are a few rules to keep in mind.

To help your visit run smoothly:

Don't move the tables or chairs.
Stay with the inmate you arranged to visit.
On contact visits you may kiss - but only on arrival and departure and in an appropriate manner.
Don't move around the room unnecessarily.
Remember you are not allowed to pass any items which have not been approved to inmates
If your behaviour is disruptive, you may be asked to leave and if necessary, removed from the centre. If you break the law, you will be reported to police.

Non-contact visits
Sometimes you will not be permitted physical contact with the inmate and your visit will take place in a cubicle with a transparent screen between you.

These are called non-contact visits and occur when there are security concerns, or when an inmate has forgone the privilege of a contact visit by behaving badly within the centre. These visits are monitored and an appropriate standard of behaviour is still expected.

Giving inmates money, papers or property
A visit is not the time or place to hand over money or papers to an inmate - but it may be a convenient time to bring them to the centre. Not all centres are able to receive money at visiting times so check with the centre before you visit. If you've brought money for an inmate, show it to the officers on duty at the front gate and then leave it with the cashier, or, on weekends, with the Visits Officer. (You'll need the correct money on weekends - the Visits Officer won't have any change.)

You may leave up to $100. The money will be deposited into the inmate's account and you will be given a written receipt. Please do not leave cheques or money orders.

If you have legal papers or documents for an inmate, contact the centre before you visit. If the matter is urgent, the centre can make special arrangements for legal papers to be given to the inmate or for you to receive them back.

Check with the centre to find out if property can be brought in for a particular inmate. Any property will need to be left at the visits reception area and not given directly to the inmate.

If you wish to leave educational books or any magazines for an inmate you must contact the centre before your visit as only certain reading material is approved.

Help and support for visitors:
The Department recognises there are occasions when members of an inmate's immediate family may experience financial hardship which prevent them being able to travel long distances to visit. Subject to the availability of funds, and applicants meeting strict criteria, financial assistance may be available to facilitate visits to inmates who are serving a sentence of more than six months.

Further information may be obtained by contacting the Welfare Officer at the correctional centre where the inmate is located.

Many community organisations provide assistance to inmates and their families through a range of services e.g. a bus service to centres outside the metropolitan area and support groups for children of inmates.

Other organisations provide assistance such as legal advice and representation.

Contact details for organisations providing these services often change and visitors requiring assistance should obtain current contact details from the Welfare Officer at the centre where the inmate is located.

Most visits go very smoothly and are a welcome break in centre routine.

However, if you are concerned about the inmate you have visited, for example If you believe he or she is depressed or suicidal in any way, make sure you raise the issue with the Officer in Charge of Visits.

If you have a complaint about any matter relating to your visit, you can speak to the Officer in Charge of Visits and possibly resolve it at the time. Or you can put your complaint in writing to the Governor of the centre, and it will be dealt with promptly.

Should you experience any difficulties which you consider have not been appropriately dealt with by the Department you may wish to contact the NSW Ombudsman by telephoning 9286 1000 or 1800 451 524.

A visitor's checklist:
Have you called ahead to check visiting times and whether a booking is necessary?

If you're a first-time visitor, have you got proper identification? Remember, on all subsequent visits you will still need to prove your identity upon request.

Have you allowed an extra 30 minutes to complete any paper work or entry procedures before your visit?

Have you left any unnecessary valuables or other items banned from the prison at home?

If you're travelling by public transport, have you checked the timetables to ensure you will arrive in time?

Remember to use toilet facilities before your visit so you're not using up valuable visiting time.

Rest peacefully Lonnie 9/17/61-5/3/05
Sadly missed by his family and friends
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