Video visitation will allow families to connect virtually in real-time
In-person visitation remains suspended due to the increase in COVID-19 cases and other restrictions, including travel
Health care professional partners deemed in-person visitation to be too risky
November 23, 2020 - SACRAMENTO – Following the continued suspension of in-person visitation in California’s state prisons, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has announced an initiative to virtually connect incarcerated people with family and friends at five prisons by the end of November.
Beginning the weekend of Nov. 28 and 29, CDCR will offer video visitation at San Quentin State Prison, California Institution for Men, Mule Creek State Prison, Valley State Prison and Central California Women’s Facility with each eligible incarcerated person allowed a free 30-minute video visit every 30 days.
Only those who have already been approved as a visitor may make an appointment. Please see our step-by-step guide on how to make a video visiting appointment. The reservations will only be taken for the first five institutions at this time, and new reservations will be made weekly, beginning each Saturday from 8 a.m. to Monday at 8 p.m. for reservations the following weekend.
Laptop and desktop computers will be set up in designated visiting areas in the prisons for the incarcerated population to access. Those areas will follow all safety guidelines, including physical distancing and sanitation of each station following a visit. All video visits are secure. The communication is encrypted and CDCR processes ensure that approved visitors are validated and only those approved visitors may join the visit.
Visitors must follow normal visitation rules and have the necessary equipment and internet access to conduct the video visit. For more information on the video visitation technology, see our guide here.
Additional details on the visiting reservation process and visitation rules can be found on CDCR’s website, which includes answers to Frequently Asked Questions.
As with all visitation at our institutions, visiting may be canceled at any time for numerous public or institutions health and safety reasons. Daily updates on each prison’s visiting status can be found on our website. All visitors should check the VPASS Facility Status webpage before any scheduled visit to ensure the institution is still open for visiting.
On March 11, CDCR made the difficult decision of suspending in-person visiting in an effort to mitigate potential exposure of COVID-19. Communication via phone, including two free phone calls per month, as well as mail and electronic mail at some institutions, has remained available.
Just last month, CDCR had the lowest number of COVID-19 cases, 283, in the incarcerated population since April, and the department was working toward reopening in-person visiting with some limitations. However, our numbers have been steadily rising since then, just like they have in the rest of the state. As of today, we are at 1,975 cases across the system. Based on the recommendation our health care professional partners who deemed in-person visiting too risky due to the increase in COVID-19 both in our institutions and across the state, visiting remains suspended. The resumption of visits has been a top priority for CDCR, and the department will continue to work toward reopening safely, in collaboration with public health experts, in a way that is safe for all involved.
For additional information on CDCR’s COVID-19 response, additional updates and information can be found here: https://www.cdcr.ca.gov/covid19/cdcr-cchcs-covid-19-status/