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(a) Policy. All people in custody are entitled to receive personal visits of sufficient length and number. Maintaining personal connections with social and family networks and support systems is critical to improving outcomes both during confinement and upon reentry. Visitation with friends and family plays an instrumental role in a person's ability to maintain these connections and should therefore be encouraged and facilitated by the Department. Additionally, the Board recognizes that a person's family may not be limited to those related to the individual by blood or by legally-recognized bonds, such as marriage or adoption. Therefore, the term "family" as it is used in this subdivision should be construed broadly to reflect the diversity of familial structures and the wide variety of relationships that may closely connect a person in custody to others. This should include, for example, but may not be limited to: romantic partners; godparents and godchildren; current and former step-parents, children, and siblings; and those connected to the individual through current or former domestic partnerships, foster arrangements, civil unions, or cohabitation.
(b) Visiting and waiting areas.
(1) A visiting area of sufficient size to meet the requirements of this section shall be established and maintained in each facility.
(2) The visiting area shall be designed so as to allow physical contact between people in custody and their visitors as required by subdivision (f) of this section.
(3) The Department shall make every effort to minimize the waiting time prior to a visit. Visitors shall not be required to wait outside a facility unless adequate shelter is provided and the requirements of paragraph (b)(4) of this section are met.
(4) All waiting and visiting areas shall provide for at least minimal comforts for visitors, including but not limited to:
(i) sufficient seats for all visitors;
(ii) access to bathroom facilities and drinking water throughout the waiting and visiting periods;
(iii) access to vending machines for beverages and foodstuffs at some point during the waiting or visiting period; and
(iv) access to a Spanish-speaking employee or volunteer at some point during the waiting or visiting period. All visiting rules, regulations, and hours shall be clearly posted in English and Spanish in the waiting and visiting areas at each facility.
(5) The Department shall make every effort to utilize outdoor areas for visits during the warm weather months.
(c) Visiting schedule.
(1) Visiting hours may be varied to fit the schedules of individual facilities but must meet the following minimum requirements for people awaiting trial:
(i) Monday through Friday. Visiting shall be permitted on at least three (3) days for at least three (3) consecutive hours between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Visiting shall be permitted on at least two (2) evenings for at least three (3) consecutive hours between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.
(ii) Saturday and Sunday. Visiting shall be permitted on both days for at least five (5) consecutive hours between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m.
(2) Visiting hours may be varied to fit the schedules of individual facilities but must meet the following minimum requirements for sentenced individuals:
(i) Monday through Friday. Visiting shall be permitted on at least one (1) evening for at least three (3) consecutive hours between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.
(ii) Saturday and Sunday. Visiting shall be permitted on both days for at least five (5) consecutive hours between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m.
(3) The visiting schedule of each facility shall be available by contacting either the central office of the Department or the facility.
(4) Visits shall last at least one (1) hour. This time period shall not begin until the person in custody and visitor meet in the visiting room.
(5) Sentenced individuals are entitled to at least two (2) visits per week with at least one (1) on an evening or the weekend, as the sentenced individual wishes. People awaiting trial are entitled to at least three (3) visits per week with at least one (1) on an evening or the weekend, as the person wishes. Visits by properly identified persons providing services or assistance, including lawyers, doctors, religious advisors, public officials, therapists, counselors, and media representatives, shall not count against this number.
(6) There shall be no limit to the number of visits by a particular visitor or category of visitors.
(7) In addition to the minimum number of visits required by paragraphs (1), (2) and (5) of this subdivision, additional visitation shall be provided in cases involving special necessity, including but not limited to, emergency situations and situations involving lengthy travel time.
(8) People in custody shall be permitted to visit with at least three (3) visitors at the same time, with the maximum number to be determined by the facility.
(9) Visitors shall be permitted to visit with at least two (2) people in custody at the same time, with the maximum number to be determined by the facility.
(10) If necessitated by lack of space, a facility may limit the total number of persons in any group of visitors and people in custody to four (4). Such a limitation shall be waived in cases involving special necessity, including but not limited to, emergency situations and situations involving lengthy travel time.
(d) Initial visit.
(1) People awaiting trial shall be entitled to receive a non-contact visit within twenty-four (24) hours of their admission to the facility.
(2) If a visiting period scheduled pursuant to paragraph (c)(1) of this section is not available within twenty-four (24) hours after a person awaiting trial's admission, arrangements shall be made to ensure that the initial visit required by this subdivision is made available.
(e) Visitor identification and registration.
(1) Consistent with the requirements of this subdivision, any properly identified person shall, with the individual in custody's consent, be permitted to visit that individual.
(i) Prior to a visit, a person in custody shall be informed of the identity of the prospective visitor.
(ii) A refusal by a person in custody to meet with a particular visitor shall not affect that person's right to meet with any other visitor during that period, nor that person's right to meet with the refused visitor during subsequent periods.
(2) Visitors shall be required to enter in the facility visitors log:
(i) their name;
(ii) their address;
(iii) the date;
(iv) the time of entry;
(v) the name of the individual or individuals to be visited; and
(vi) the time of exit.
(3) Any prospective visitors who under sixteen (16) years of age shall be required to enter, or have entered on their behalf, in the facility visitors log:
(i) the information required by paragraph (2) of this subdivision;
(ii) their age; and
(iii) the name, address, and telephone number of their parent or legal guardian.
(4) The visitors log shall be confidential, and information contained therein shall not be read by or revealed to non-Department staff except as provided by the City Charter or pursuant to a specific request by an official law enforcement agency. The Department shall maintain a record of all such requests with detailed and complete descriptions.
(5) Prior to visiting a person in custody, a prospective visitor under sixteen (16) years of age may be required to be accompanied by a person eighteen (18) years of age or older, and to produce oral or written permission from a parent or legal guardian approving such visit.
(6) The Department may adopt alternative procedures for visiting by persons under sixteen (16) years of age. Such procedures must be consistent with the policy of paragraph (e)(5) of this subdivision and shall be submitted to the Board for approval.
(f) Contact visits. Physical contact shall be permitted between all people in custody and all of their visitors. Permitted physical contact shall include a brief embrace and kiss between the person in custody and visitor at both the beginning and end of the visitation period. People in custody shall be permitted to hold children in their family who are ages fourteen (14) and younger throughout the visitation period, provided that the Department may limit a person in custody to holding one child at a time. Additionally, people in custody shall be permitted to hold hands with their visitors throughout the visitation period, which the Department may limit to holding hands over a partition that is no greater than six (6) inches. The provisions of this subdivision are inapplicable to individuals housed for medical reasons in the contagious disease units. The Department may impose certain limitations on contact visits for people confined in RMAS housing in accordance with the procedures and guidelines set forth in 40 RCNY § 6-17(f).
(g) Visiting security and supervision.
(1) All people in custody, prior and subsequent to each visit, may be searched solely to ensure that they do not possess any contraband.
(2) All prospective visitors may be searched prior to a visit solely to ensure that they do not possess any contraband.
(3) Any body search of a prospective visitor made pursuant to paragraph (2) of this subdivision shall be conducted only through the use of electronic detection devices. Nothing contained herein shall affect any authority possessed by correctional personnel pursuant to statute.
(4) Objects possessed by a prospective visitor, including but not limited to, handbags or packages, may be searched or checked. Personal effects, including wedding rings and religious medals and clothing, may be worn by visitors during a visit. The Department may require a prospective visitor to secure in a lockable locker his or her personal property, including but not limited to bags, outerwear and electronic devices. A visit may not be delayed or denied because an operable, lockable locker is not available.
(5) Supervision shall be provided during visits solely to ensure that the safety or security of the facility is maintained.
(6) Visits shall not be listened to or monitored unless a lawful warrant is obtained, although visual supervision should be maintained.
(h) Restrictions on visitation rights.
(1) The visitation rights of a person in custody with a particular visitor may be denied, revoked or limited only when it is determined that the exercise of those rights constitutes a serious threat to the safety or security of a facility, provided that visitation rights with a particular visitor may be denied only if revoking the right to contact visits would not suffice to reduce the serious threat. This determination must be based on specific acts committed by the visitor during a prior visit to a facility that demonstrate the visitor's threat to the safety and security of a facility, or on specific information received and verified that the visitor plans to engage in acts during the next visit that will be a threat to the safety or security of the facility. Prior to any determination, the visitor must be provided with written notification of the specific charges and the names and statements of the charging parties and be afforded an opportunity to respond. The name of an informant may be withheld if necessary to protect the informant's safety.
(2) A person in custody's right to contact visits as provided in subdivision (f) of this section may be denied, revoked, or limited only when it is determined that such visits constitute a serious threat to the safety or security of a facility. Should a determination be made to deny, revoke or limit a person's right to contact visits in the usual manner, alternative arrangements for affording the individual the requisite number of visits shall be made, including, but not limited to, non-contact visits. This determination must be based on specific acts committed by the person while in custody under the present charge or sentence that demonstrate the person's threat to the safety and security of a facility, or on specific information received and verified that the individual plans to engage in acts during the next visit that will be a threat to the safety or security of the facility. Prior to any determination, the person must be provided with written notification of the specific charges and the names and statements of the charging parties and be afforded an opportunity to respond. The name of an informant may be withheld if necessary to protect the informant's safety.
(3) Restrictions on visitation rights must be tailored to the threat posed by the person in custody or prospective visitor and shall go no further than what is necessary to address that threat.
(4) Visitation rights shall not be denied, revoked, limited or interfered with based on a person in custody's or a prospective visitor's actual or perceived:
(ii) sexual orientation;
(iv) age, except as otherwise provided in this section;
(vi) political beliefs;
(viii) criminal record;
(ix) pending criminal or civil case;
(x) lack of family relationship;
(xi) gender, including gender identity, self-image, appearance, behavior or expression; or
(5) Any determination to deny, revoke or limit a person in custody's visitation rights pursuant to paragraphs (1) and (2) of this subdivision shall be in writing and shall state the specific facts and reasons underlying such determination. A copy of this determination, including a description of the appeal procedure, shall be sent to the Board and to any person affected by the determination within twenty-four (24) hours of the determination.
(i) Appeal procedure for visitation restrictions.
(1) Any person affected by the Department's determination to deny, revoke or limit access to visitation may appeal such determination to the Board, in accordance with the following procedures:
(i) The person affected by the determination shall give notice in writing to the Board and the Department of intent to appeal the determination.
(ii) The Department and any person affected by the determination may submit to the Board for its consideration any relevant material in addition to the written determination.
(iii) The Board or its designee shall issue a written decision upon the appeal within five (5) business days after receiving notice of the requested review, indicating whether the visitation determination has been affirmed, reversed, or modified.
(iv) Where there exists good cause to extend the time period in which the Board or designee may issue a written decision beyond five (5) business days, the Board or designee may issue a single extension not to exceed ten (10) business days. In such instances, the Board shall immediately notify the Department and any persons affected by the extension.
(Amended City Record 12/24/2015, eff. 1/23/2016; amended City Record 6/9/2021, eff. 7/9/2021)