LIFE SUPPORT ALLIANCE
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TOP 10 QUESTIONS ON FAMILY VISITS FOR LIFERS

​1. Yes, family visits for lifers (and LWOP) have been reinstated after 20 years.

2. Many prisons have already begun lifer family visits, others are still working on approving applications. If you feel your prison is dragging its collective feet on approvals. contact the Ombudsman for your prison.

3. Yes, you must be legally married or immediate family to qualify, girl friend or fiance is not immediate family; parents (step parents too), spouse, siblings, etc. qualify.

4. You must fill out a family visiting form that the prisoner must get from the prison and be approved for family visits; similar process to regular visiting approval. For more information on the family visiting process, please scroll down. 

5. Yes, there are some crimes or in-prison behaviors that will be screened out, waiting for those guidelines now. If you are currently screened out, read the new guidelines when they are released and re-apply.

6. There will be a waiting period, as there are only a limited number of family visiting units, already a waiting list for visits and we've just thrown several thousand more participants into the mix. There is currently no money in the CDCR budget to rehab or reclaim visiting units--we are lobbying for this in the legislature, you can help by calling your Assembly member or State Senator and expressing your concerns.

7. It's a good idea to bring a certified copy of your marriage certificate along when you go for family visits, much as you do with minor children and birth certificates--CDCR has a way of losing documents in C-files and you don't want to be turned away because you have to prove, again, that you're married.

8. The food system varies by each prison, one thing you can be sure of, the food will be expensive and not great. Work on this issue at your prison, through your Inmate Family Council and the Ombudsman's office.

9. No, I can't tell you if your individual prisoner will qualify due to his past or crime--we can only guess until the new regs come out.

10. As we find out more details and solid info we'll post it--please don't continue to email asking if there is anymore word...when we get it, it will be posted ASAP.

FROM LIFE SUPPORT ALLIANCE

BIG NEWS! WOW!! Better than we hoped! (Posted Friday, July 1)

Just left a meeting at CDCR with the Director of Adult Institutions--here's the huge and wonderful news. She expects family visits for lifers to begin 'soon,' hopefully as soon as the next few months, and LWOP IS included in family visits. There are some exclusions--no close custody inmates, no one with a 290 conviction or history of domestic violence. 

Availability will also be an issue, as the budget does not have any funds to rehabilitate, reclaim from other uses or build new family visiting units, so family visiting will be prime resource, as many of the former family visiting areas are now used for other purposes.

But lifers and families will soon be able to have real family time. 

Not sure how long in 'soon' but the intent is certainly to get things moving. An official memo outlining procedures and policies is expected within a week and we've asked for a copy.

For the first time--we're saying spread the gossip! It's real!!!

(Posted Thursday, July 7) UP DATE ON FAMILY VISITING FOR LIFERS AND LWOP--YES. Family visits for lifers and LWOPs are coming. We've had several messages saying these have already been 'enacted' and wanting to know why not at every prison..the answer is that they have been 'enacted' only in that the budget containing money for restoration has been approved and signed, but they have not yet begun to happen.

As to when--after meeting with the Undersecretary for Operations, the Director of Adult Institutions and the Deputy Director of DAPO today the word is...dunno yet. CDCR legal has not yet concluded whether this can be done via policy/memo (about 3 months) or must be a regulation change (about 6 months), but the prevailing opinion at present is that it will be a regulation change. 

As for whether or not your inmate will qualify...that will be on case-by-case at times, but basically the requirements for family visiting are set out in Title 15, Secton 3177 especially Section 3177 (b) (1). Immediate family members including children, step-children, parents, siblings and grandparents are included in FAMILY visits as well as spouses. And yes, you must be legally married or a registered domestic partner.

This is the preliminary criteria, which will be evaluated in each case and can be modified, as things progress.

All counselors and wardens are now aware of this change and should be ready shortly with forms for you to fill out If you are in doubt about whether or not your inmate will be eligible, submit the form, if the answer is no, begin the 602 appeal process and make your case.

We can't stress enough that this will be a time consuming process, as there is already a wait of 2-3 months for family visits because of few facilities, and now there are suddenly several hundred/ or thousands of inmates eligible. So you won't be getting your visit next weekend, or the next or the next--but it WILL happen. Everyone at CDC Headquarters is fully and completely behind this new move and it will be system-wide--no prison or warden will be allowed to opt out.

There are more changes coming regarding custody levels and points and as these changes roll out we'll post what they are and when effective.

And now a word from the sponsor--we are a donation-driven non-profit staffed by full-time unpaid volunteers---any donations are greatly appreciated and help us maintain the level of work we do on all things lifer! 

Bottom line, yes, lifers AND LWOP will see family visits, by the end of the year is the target date, if not sooner. It's real, it's happening and it's coming your way.

THE FAMILY VISITING PROCESS

    If you are struggling with approval for family visits, your first step should be to contact the Ombudsman for your prison and report the problem. When you do so, be sure to cc Sara Malone, the Chief Ombudsman. Contact information for the Ombuds can be found here: 

http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Ombuds/OOContact.html 

CDCR, through the Ombudsman’s office, is tracking the length of time it takes individual prisons to approve family visiting applications and how many are denied and for what reason. We’re also taking names of counselors and institutions that seem to be especially difficult in this area. But please do your part by contacting the Ombudsman first.
Many inmates are currently denied due to the current guidelines that preclude those with past domestic violence issue, contraband or minor victims from family visits. New guidelines are expected by mid-late summer and we hope to see some of these exclusions modified to allow more lifers and LWOP inmates to enjoy the reunification that family visits bring. If you are initially screened out, reapply after the new guidelines are released.

Remember, these are FAMILY visits, not just conjugal visits. The purpose is to promote family unity, rehabilitation and ease transition once an inmate is released on parole. The guidelines are for immediate family, though step-parents and step-children are included. You must be legally married or a registered domestic partner. If you were married after the prisoner was incarcerated, that counts, but registered domestic partners must have established that registration prior to incarceration.
Wait times for visits may be long, depending on the prison, how many family visiting units are available and how many families are in line. You can help by joining us in lobbying your state legislators to provide more funds to rehabilitate, reclaim and construct more family visiting units—be sure to stress the rehabilitative factors of family visits!  

And now a word from the sponsor--we are a donation-driven non-profit staffed by full-time unpaid volunteers---any donations are greatly appreciated and help us maintain the level of work we do on all things lifer!