New Legislation Changes Inmates’ Family-Visiting Policy

California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation changing a number of rules affecting visitation of prison inmates.

Senate Bill 843 was signed June 27. Among several dozen amendments and additions to existing state law, the new law affirms that when the Legislature and governor amend regulations affecting visitation of inmates, they must “recognize and consider, among other things, the value of visiting as a means to improve the safety of prisons for both staff and inmates.”

The new law adds that effective July 1, inmates could not be prohibited from family visits “based solely on the fact that the inmate was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole or was sentenced to life and is without a parole date established by the Board of Parole Hearings.”

The Men’s Advisory Council (MAC) met with Chief Deputy Warden Kelly Mitchell and Associate Warden Gary Forncrook regarding this new law and its impact and change to the current visiting policy.

“Senate Bill 843 now authorizes family visits for lifers. We were just informed, but we cannot process applications for overnight visits with family until the regulations are written. Until we know the criteria, we cannot authorize family visits for lifers,” said Mitchell.

“Let the (general population) inmates know that they may contact their counselor for a family visit application. However, applications will not be processed until we receive the criteria from headquarters. We will also be meeting with all of the counselors to inform them.”

“The only exclusion that will remain is that Close Custody inmates may not participate in family visiting,” said Forncrook. “Close custody inmates are not eligible for family visits. Other exclusionary criteria are not yet known at this time.”

So for now, all mainline/general population inmates who are not Close Custody and interested in receiving a family visit may contact their correctional counselors regarding a “family visiting application” or inmates may send a request via a form CDCR-22 to the “Family Visiting Coordinator” for more information. Completed applications must be submitted to counselors but they will not be processed until the administration receives the new regulations that establish the family visiting criteria.

–Angelo Falcone

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