Rules For Visitors

Dear Prospective Visitor:

The South Carolina Department of Corrections is committed to encouraging relationships between inmates, their family members, and their friends. We strongly feel that visitation is an important part of each inmate's rehabilitation. At the same time, the Department must provide for the safety and security of each facility, staff, and inmates, and most importantly, the safety of other visitors, the public, and you.

Based on security concerns, all personal devices that communicate wirelessly, including activity fitness trackers and smartwatches, have been prohibited from being brought into SCDC institutions since February 1, 2016. The devices have the capability to communicate with other devices over a wireless transmission protocol such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and cellular.

Since September 4, 2015, in a continuing effort to improve the safety and security of our institutions for staff, inmates, and visitors, all visitors age 18 and older entering Level II and Level III institutions will be required to submit to a pat/frisk search in addition to the existing search procedures. Female visitors will be searched by female employees only. Male visitors may be searched by employees of either gender. This practice is consistent with several other state correctional agencies and with our current practices for employees, vendors, and volunteers.

Visitors age 17 and under will not be pat/frisk searched as a routine practice. However, our policy has been and will continue to provide for such a search due to an alert from a drug dog, metal detector, or handheld electronic frisker. A pat/frisk search of a visitor age 17 and under will require approval of the warden/designee and the written consent of the parent, legal guardian, or authorized adult, and will be conducted by an employee of the same gender as the visitor.

Visitors retain the option of refusing to be searched, unless there is reason to detain and arrest. Any visitor who refuses to be questioned, who refuses to consent to be searched, or who refuses to allow a minor to be questioned or searched will be subject to a suspension of visiting privileges as outlined in SCDC policy governing inmate visitation.

Since January 1, 2008, the South Carolina Department of Corrections is a tobacco-free environment. Tobacco, tobacco-related products, paraphernalia or lighting devices are not allowed in any buildings, or on any property belonging to the Agency. Tobacco products and/or associated paraphernalia shall be secured in personal vehicles and will be considered contraband within all Agency buildings and institutions.

The frequently asked questions below have been developed to familiarize you with the rules and regulations that must be followed both prior to and during each visit with your family member or friend. We trust that this information will be useful to you. Read the following information carefully.

1. How do I apply for visiting privileges?
  • If the inmate wants you to visit, he or she will send you a Form 19-127, "Request for Visiting Privileges." Only inmates are authorized to provide an application.
  • FULLY complete the Form 19-27 that is provided to you by the inmate and return it by mail to the Division of Visitation and Inmate Drug Testing P. O. Box 212969, Columbia, SC 29221 (This is a new address). If you should need additional Form 19-127s in the future, you may obtain them from the inmate you wish to visit.
  • If you do not provide all requested information, the form will be rejected. If the "Request for Visiting Privileges" cannot be processed because it is incomplete or because you have provided an incorrect inmate name or inmate number (the identification number assigned to the inmate by the South Carolina Department of Corrections), it will be returned to you, if the address on the form is complete. A parent, legal guardian, or other adult may assist a child in completing the form; however, only a parent or legal guardian will be permitted to sign this form.

2. How will I be notified if I am approved to visit?

The inmate is responsible for notifying visitors once they have been approved
. (NOTE: Any subsequent status change to the information on your original application (address, name, phone number, etc.) must be submitted in writing to Visitation in order to be updated or the visiting privileges may be rescinded. Disapproved applicants will be notified by the Division Director of Visitation and Inmate Drug Testing

3. Why would I be denied visiting privileges?
You may be denied visiting privileges for any of the following reasons:
  • Providing false information on the "Request for Visiting Privileges."
  • If you are a former inmate, you may be denied visiting if the Department considers you to be a threat to the safe and secure operation of the institution. Former inmates may be approved to visit only if they are a member of the inmate's immediate family** except for in-laws. In any case, former inmates will not be allowed visiting privileges until at least one year after they are released from the South Carolina Department of Corrections or any other correctional facility and the respective warden approves their request.
  • If you are a former South Carolina Department of Corrections employee, contract employee, or volunteer who worked within a South Carolina Department of Corrections facility, you may be denied visiting privileges if during such employment, you violated any South Carolina Department of Corrections policy/procedure pertaining to employee/inmate relations including sexual intercourse, sexual relations, dating, marrying, or otherwise establishing a personal relationship with an inmate and/or any person under the jurisdiction of the South Carolina Department of Corrections. In any case, former employees, contract employees, or volunteers who have terminated their employment with the Department within the last year prior to the date of the "Request for Visiting Privileges," will not be approved to visit. After one year, only members of an inmate's immediate family** (provided the former employee or contract employee did not become a member of the inmate's immediate family as a result of meeting and/or marrying him/her while incarcerated) will be considered.
  • Anyone may be disapproved if they pose a threat to the safe and secure operation of the institution.
  • Persons with prior convictions or pending criminal charges may be permitted to visit; however, the following conditions must be met: Must be a member of the inmate's immediate family**. Must not be nor previously have been a co-defendant with the inmate on any criminal charges. Must provide information listing all past convictions or outstanding charges which are still active including the jurisdiction (city/county/state) where the warrants were signed or the indictments issued. Must answer accurately and truthfully all questions on SCDC Form 19-127, "Request for Visiting Privileges."
**Immediate Family refers to an inmate's mother, father, children (including adopted), sister, brother, grandmothers, grandfathers, great-grandmothers, great-grandfathers, step-grandparents, wife, husband, common-law spouse, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, stepbrothers, stepsisters, stepparents, foster parents, stepchildren, step-grandchildren, half-brothers, half-sisters. Any family member may be required to verify relationship with certified documentation.

4. If I am approved, when and how often can I visit?

The number of visits that an inmate may receive each month is based on the inmate's security and custody level and may be further restricted by programming or by the inmate's behavior. The inmate will provide you with information about his or her visitation schedule, based on where he/she is housed.
Find Institution Information

5. Can children visit?

Yes, children can visit but only those specified below. The only minors who will be considered for inclusion on an inmate's approved visiting list are the inmate's brothers and sisters, the inmate's children (including adopted), stepchildren, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and step-grandchildren; as shown on the inmate's relative list which will be verified by certified long-form birth certificates (Attach a copy to application). A parent or legal guardian must assist the child in completing the "Request for Visiting Privileges." A parent or legal guardian must sign this form, and a parent, legal guardian, or authorized adult must accompany the child during the entire visit.

Nieces and nephews who are minors may be considered to visit, however, there are specific conditions which the inmate must meet in order to receive visits from nieces and nephews. Only the nieces and nephews of those inmates who meet ALL of the criteria listed below will be considered for addition to the respective visiting list:
  • Inmate must have been incarcerated for at least three consecutive years.
  • Inmate may NOT have ever been convicted of a sex offense or sexual misconduct disciplinary.
  • Inmate must have NO major disciplinaries and/or NO more than two minor disciplinary convictions within a three-year period.
  • Inmate must have been employed for a minimum of three years.
  • The brother or sister, parent of the niece or nephew, must show on the inmate's relative screen and must submit a copy of the respective niece/nephew's long-form birth certificate for verification.

In addition, if any authorized adult, other than the parent or legal guardian, is to accompany a child who is on the inmate's approved list to visit an inmate, the parent or legal guardian must complete Form 19-118, "Authorization for Adult Supervision of a Minor," and have the form notarized by a Notary Public. The custodial parent or legal guardian must request this form through the Division of Visitation and Inmate Drug Testing. The Form 19-118 must be brought to the institution by the authorized adult and provided to the officer assigned to the entrance of the institution each time the child and authorized adult visit in order to be allowed admission into the institution.

6. How many people can visit an inmate at one time?

The number of visitors allowed may be limited because of the size of the visiting room, or for safety and security reasons. All approved visitors desiring to visit with the same inmate on the same day must enter the institution at the same time in order to visit with the inmate (but may depart at different times). In addition, the number of visitors for inmates in higher security levels, infirmaries, or community hospitals will be limited for security reasons. If you have questions about how many visitors will be allowed, you should call the respective institution.

7. What is the dress code for visiting?

The following requirements for visitors apply to all institutions and will be strictly enforced: (Should any officer or SCDC employee have any doubt as to whether a visitor is appropriately dressed, s/he will contact the duty warden (or designee if the duty warden is not present in the institution) who will come to the entrance area and make the final decision.)
Should a decision be made that a visitor is inappropriately dressed, the visitor will be denied admission to the institution.
  • Shirts and shoes are mandatory.
  • Clothing that exposes an undue amount of flesh (e.g., exposing chest, back, thighs, or midsections) is prohibited. Halter tops, underwear-type tee-shirts, tank tops, fish net shirts, or any type of shirt or pants made with see-through fabric are NOT allowed to be worn by any visitor (male or female). Sleeveless shirts WILL NOT be allowed.
  • Visitors may wear Bermuda-length shorts provided they are not more than three inches above the top of the kneecap.
  • At institutions where the use of khaki inmate uniforms has been fully implemented, all visitors may wear blue jeans/shorts, khaki pants/shorts, or other color denim jeans/shorts.
  • At institutions that continue to utilize blue-jean denim inmate uniforms (shock units), visitors will be prohibited from wearing blue jeans/shorts or blue denim pants/shorts. Denim jeans/shorts other than the color blue will be allowed.
  • Women and girls may wear dresses or skirts. However, no sleeveless dresses will be allowed. If a dress or skirt is considered too short or if there is a slit (no higher than three inches above the top of the knee), or is considered otherwise inappropriate by an officer, the officer will be required to contact the duty warden (or designee if the duty warden is not present in the institution) who will be responsible for coming to the entrance area for a decision as to whether the visitor will be allowed to visit. The decision of the duty warden/designee is final.
  • Any shirt or other article of clothing with a picture or language that may be considered profane or offensive by current public and/or SCDC standards will not be allowed. In such cases, the officer will contact the duty warden (or designee if the duty warden is not present in the institution) who will be responsible for coming to the entrance area for a decision as to whether the visitor will be allowed to visit. The decision of the duty warden/designee is final.
  • Clothing designed or intended to be tightly worn, to excessively accent the body, e.g., spandex, tights, leggings, tank tops, etc., is prohibited.
  • Hair pieces and any hair accessories are subject to search.
  • No jewelry except wedding ring, one pair of earrings, one religious medallion on a necklace or chain, one wristwatch, and a medical alert bracelet.
8. What items am I allowed to carry into the institution?
Visitors will be permitted to bring into any institution only the items listed below: (Any item not included in the following list, or any authorized item in excess of approved amounts [e.g., cash], will be considered as "unauthorized items" and will not be permitted to be brought into any institution by any visitor.)
Authorized Items Permitted by Visitors
Small wallet or change purse One (Clear plastic only)
Cash Cash can no longer be brought into any institution.

Instead, SCDC institutions (except for Allendale CI and Ridgeland CI) now utilize cashless vending machines that require Paykey devices, electronic recording tools the size of a keychain onto which cash can be transferred. These devices can be purchased for $6 or $7 (varies by institution) at the entrance of each institution and can hold up to $50. Specific instructions should be obtained from the respective institution you wish to visit.

Allendale CI and Ridgeland CI (only) accept Visa, Mastercard, Discover and PIN debit cards at their cashless vending machines.
Keys One set. (Must not contain any items that may cause a security threat.)
Photographic identification card One as described in sections 5.2 and 5.3 of SCDC Policy OP-22.09
Prescription Medications For those individuals who are required to take prescription medications at certain times during visiting hours, the SCDC will allow only the dosage necessary to be taken by the individual during his/her visit to be brought into any institution. Each prescription medication brought into any institution must be placed in its original prescribed container with the original pharmacy label. The container must contain written information concerning the type of medication, dosage requirements, and the name of the individual to whom the medication was prescribed. Under no circumstances will containers containing different types of medications be allowed into any SCDC institution. The SCDC reserves the right to prohibit individuals from bringing into any institution any medication that may pose a threat to the inmate population or institutional security. (NOTE: Individuals who are required to use injections [needles/syringes] for medical conditions will be required to leave the institution for such purposes and may be allowed to return. Under no circumstances will needles/syringes be brought into any SCDC institution or left on the grounds of any SCDC property.) EpiPens will be allowed ONLY with doctor's notorized, written authorization.
Form 19-118, "Authorization for Adult Supervision of a Minor" If applicable, one copy (For more information see paragraph 5, "Can Children Visit?" above.)
Baby/Infant Supplies For those visitors bringing authorized infants and small children, no more than five diapers, three baby bottles (or two sipper cups for toddlers, must be clear), and three jars of sealed baby food in a clear plastic bag. (Baby wipes/towelettes may be brought in by visitors provided they are brought in a clear plastic bag. Infant/baby carriers will be allowed but will be subject to search prior to entry into the institution. (Visitors will be required to remove the infant from the carrier for this purpose.)

NOTE: Beepers/pagers are not allowed into the institution unless they are required due to medical/ professional reasons. If the visitor has been approved to take in a beeper/pager, it will be thoroughly inspected prior to the visitor entering the institution.

In order to ensure that all visitors are aware of state laws governing contraband, Section 24-3-950 of the South Carolina Code of Laws (Contraband Law), as amended, will be posted in a conspicuous place at the entrance of each institution so that all visitors may read it prior to entering.

9. What are the rules for visiting?

Except as otherwise noted, visitors are prohibited from engaging in the following activities. Any violation of the following rules of conduct may result in the immediate termination of a visit or further visitation suspension.
  • Loitering;
  • Taking any article whatsoever from the grounds of the institution (e.g., gifts from inmates or inmates' excess personal property items) without prior authorization from the warden, duty warden, or designee; (Exceptions may be made for approved attorneys, paralegals, clergy, or prospective employers who require paperwork to be submitted to them by an inmate.)
  • Walking or driving along the perimeter road;
  • Photographing buildings, fences, etc.;
  • Loud playing of vehicle radios while on South Carolina Department of Corrections property;
  • Visitor's actions/inactions which are a security risk or health risk to others, e.g., leaving children in vehicle, leaving keys in vehicle, etc.; Under no circumstances will visitors be authorized to leave any child unattended in any vehicle on South Carolina Department of Corrections property while they are visiting.
  • Under no circumstances will visitors be authorized to leave any pet/animal unattended in any vehicle on South Carolina Department of Corrections property while they are visiting nor bring any pet/animal into an institution unless the animal is necessary to enable a person to physically maneuver (e.g. "seeing eye" dog).
  • Yelling at inmates or engaging in loud, boisterous behavior during visiting or while on South Carolina Department of Corrections property; or
  • Passing any item to inmates or accepting items from inmates. (NOTE: The only items authorized to be passed will be food and beverage items purchased from vending machines by visitors. Exceptions may be made for approved attorneys, paralegals, and prospective employers who require paperwork to be passed to an inmate.)
  • Visitors will be required to keep accompanying children as orderly as possible during their visit so that other inmates and visitors will not be disturbed. In the event that a visitor is unable to control his or her child(ren), the visit will be terminated and the visitor(s) and children will be required to leave the institution.
  • Any visitor found bringing any items not listed above, or excessive amounts of any authorized item, into any institution will, if the item is not considered illegal, be advised that they will not be able to visit that day. No visitor will be allowed to return to their vehicle and return to visit. Any visitor found with illegal contraband or any visitor who visited an inmate who was found with contraband will not visit again.
  • Visitors will not be allowed to switch tables and/or visit with any inmate(s) other than those they are currently authorized to visit or with any other visitors. (The duty warden may approve exceptions in those cases of immediate family members incarcerated at the same institution.)(NOTE: Inmates and their visitors may go from an inside table to a table outside the visiting room [for those institutions with outdoor visiting areas]).
  • Inmates authorized contact visiting will be allowed to embrace and to kiss visitors once at the beginning and once at the end of each visit. Whenever possible, depending upon the number of visitors and the shape of tables, an inmate and visitor(s) are to be seated at opposite sides of the table. Policy allows an inmate to hold a child aged 2 and under (6 and under for female inmates). Any other display of affection between inmate and visitor other than that described above will be prohibited and may result in disciplinary action for the inmate and visiting suspension for the inmate and/or visitor involved.
10. Will my visiting privileges be suspended if I break a rule?
  • The warden, duty warden, or an approved designee has the authority to terminate a visit while the visit is in progress if the inmate violates any established rules and regulations or if the inmate’s visitor(s) does not comply with the rules and regulations governing inmate visitors. Prior to termination of the visit, less severe alternatives may be attempted, if appropriate. This may include verbal warnings to the inmate and/or visitor(s) of improper conduct which, if not discontinued, will result in the visit being terminated and may result in the visitor's and the inmate's visiting privileges being suspended.
  • In addition, for serious violations of rules, the Department may suspend your visiting privileges for a period of two years or less, indefinitely or permanently, depending on the severity of the rules violation. During this suspension you will not be allowed to visit any inmate in the South Carolina Department of Corrections. Because of the Department's need to maintain security and order of our institutions, we highly recommend that you carefully follow our rules and regulations so that you can continue to visit your loved ones and friends.

11. Who can I call if I have additional questions?

If you have questions about the inmate's visiting days or times or institution, you should call the respective institution where the inmate is housed. The inmate should provide you with the telephone number for the institution and your call will be directed to an employee who can assist you. Find Institution Information

If you do not understand how to complete the "Request for Visiting Privileges" you can call the Visitation Inquiry Line at 803-896-1838 and leave a message. Your call will be returned within 1-2 business days.

When calling the inquiry line, you may press 2 to be advised of any facilities or units not having visitation.