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Montana State Prison Inmate Visiting
June 2012


Immediate family member – An inmate’s legal spouse, natural or adoptive parents and children, siblings, grandchildren, grandparents, corresponding in-law, person verified as being primarily responsible for raising the inmate in the absence of a parent and any other member of the inmate’s household.

Visiting supervisor – The second-shift lieutenant assigned by the second shift captain to oversee the Montana State Prison visiting program.

General Requirements

  • Visiting is a privilege and not a right for both inmates and members of the general public.
  • Copies of the visiting rules/regulations will be displayed in the lobby of the Wallace Building and visiting rooms, and will be provided to inmates and visitors to inform them regarding the visiting process.
  • The visiting rules/regulations will include regular scheduling of visits at times that will provide approved visitors reasonable visits with inmates.
  • Inmates on work crews are expected to arrange their visits after work hours.

Approval of Visitors

  • Visitor questionnaires and rules are available to inmates in their housing units and to members of the public on the Montana Department of Corrections website.
  • Prospective visitors must completely and accurately fill out the questionnaire and mail it to MSP in care of the mail room. All visitors are subject to criminal background checks.
  • Applicants over 18 years old must submit separate questionnaires.
  • Children less than 18 years of age must be included on the same questionnaire as their parent applicant or court-appointed legal guardian. The applicant must answer all questions for each person on the questionnaire. Once approved, the inmate’s children may visit if accompanied by any adult family member on the inmate’s approved visiting list.
  • Designated staff will process the questionnaire, approve or disapprove each applicant (based on the guidelines outlined below), and send notification to the inmate as to who has been approved or disapproved. The inmate may contact the second-shift captain or lieutenant if he has any concerns or questions.
  • Reasons for disapproval of an applicant include, but are not limited to, the following:
    • Incomplete or inaccurate completion of the questionnaire.
    • The applicant is on another inmate’s visiting list. An exception may be granted if both inmates are members of the same immediate family.
    • An inmate already has 25 people on his approved visiting list. The inmate must request removal of people on his list before others will be added.
    • The applicant is under the age of 18. Persons under the age of 18 may only visit in the company of a parent or court-appointed legal guardian.
    • The applicant is on active probation or parole, conditional release or has recently discharged a prison or jail sentence.
      • Applicants in this category who are immediate family members may be reviewed for visiting approval after six months of satisfactory community adjustment.
      • Applicants in this category who are not immediate family members may be reviewed for visiting approval after two years of satisfactory community adjustment.
      • If approved, the person must obtain written permission from his or her supervising probation and parole officer and possess an authorized travel permit.
      • The security major or higher authority must approve any exceptions.
    • It has not been over 90 days since the applicant was removed from another inmate’s visiting list.
    • Reasonable suspicion exists to show that the applicant may have a harmful effect on the inmate or pose a threat to the safety and security of the facility, other visitors, staff or other inmates.
    • The applicant has pending felony or misdemeanor charges.
    • Current and former employees
      • Current and former Department of Corrections employees who left employment in good standing, with immediate family ties to an inmate prior to incarceration or community supervision, may have visiting privileges subject to the same procedures for all other visitors.
      • Current employees without immediate family ties to an inmate prior to incarceration or community supervision will not have visiting privileges.
      • Employees who discontinue employment with the department, or any department-contracted facility or program, may not visit inmates confined in any prison facility who were not immediate family members of the inmate prior to incarceration or community supervision for a minimum of four years.
      • Any employee terminated from department employment for cause, or who resigned in lieu of termination due to inappropriate activities with an inmate, are permanently prohibited from visiting inmates. This prohibition extends to inappropriate activities discovered after the employee’s separation from service.
  • Within 30 days of receipt of a questionnaire, designated staff will contact the applicant, utilizing written, electronic or telephonic means, informing him or her whether the application has been approved or disapproved. A disapproved applicant may appeal the decision by filling out the appeal section on the disapproval form they receive, and mailing it to the second-shift captain within 14 days of the postmark on the notice. The second-shift captain or designee will respond to the appeal within 30 days of receipt of the appeal. This response is final and exhausts the applicant’s administrative remedies.

Special Visits

Special visits may be approved, however, they are limited to unusual circumstances.

  • Immediate family members traveling from other states who visit infrequently may be granted a special visit.
  • Family member applicants not yet on the approved visiting list may be granted a single visit prior to approval, provided they have a picture I.D.
  • Attorney visits:
    • Attorneys should normally visit during the 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. business day.
    • An attorney wishing to visit an inmate client must call the MSP mail room supervisor 24 hours in advance to make arrangements for a visit. This is to minimize delays or problems in processing the visit request.
    • Attorneys are subject to search procedures and must present proper credentials and identification to entrance post staff.
    • All other institutional rules and regulations apply.
    • Every effort will be made to have attorneys and their clients visit in a room/area that allows privacy. All reasonable precautions will be taken to preserve the confidentiality of the attorney-client relationship.
    • Officers will visually observe attorney visits, but attorney-client conversations will not be recorded or listened to in any manner.
    • Attorneys and inmates may exchange written material without it being read.
    • An attorney on an inmate’s approved visiting list will not be allowed attorney visits with that inmate.
      • If an attorney who is on an inmate’s visiting list wants special attorney visits with an inmate in accordance with this section, the inmate and/or attorney must first contact the MSP mail room supervisor and have the attorney’s name removed from the inmate’s visiting list.
      • A person who changes their status from a regular visitor to the inmate’s attorney, and subsequently wants to be returned to the inmate’s visiting list, must re-apply to be a regular visitor.
  • Inmates admitted to the MSP infirmary or the hospital and considered by a physician or mid-level provider to be in the late stages of the dying process may be allowed to visit with immediate family members or their attorneys at the visiting rooms, the infirmary, or the hospital where the inmate is staying. Arrangements for infirmary and hospital visits must be in writing from the shift commander.
  • Martz Diagnostic Intake Unit inmates are only allowed visits with their attorneys and law enforcement officials. Visit with attorneys will be conducted as outlined above.
  • Inmates in locked-housing status are allowed limited visits. However, those in detention and pre-hearing confinement will not.

Visitor Searches

  • In accordance with state law, weapons, alcohol, and narcotics are prohibited on MSP property. Violators are subject to criminal charges.
  • All visitors and visitor property on prison premises are subject to search at any time. If a visitor refuses to submit to a required or reasonable suspicion search, they will be turned away.
  • Lobby and visiting officers will conduct a clothed body search on all visitors and ensure they “pass” the metal detector prior to allowing them to visit. If contraband is found on a visitor, staff will confiscate the contraband and terminate the visit. Depending on the nature of the contraband, staff may immediately contact the Powell County Sheriff’s office.
  • Visitors with a medical condition, medical device or disability medical device on or in their body should check with their physician prior to arriving at MSP to determine if it is safe to be searched with a handheld or walk-through metal detector. Those with proper documentation from their physician will be subject only to a clothed body search.
    • Visitors advised by a physician to avoid these metal detectors must provide visiting staff with documentation of the same.
    • This documentation should be provided prior to the date of visitation or at the time of initial visiting application so that the information can be entered onto the visitor’s database.
    • If a visitor has an implanted medical device that the visitor would like to remain private and confidential, the visitor should ask staff to be discrete when assisting him or her through the security screening process. Visitors with a pacemaker should carry a pacemaker identification card when at MSP to visit. Visitors showing staff a valid pacemaker identification card will be subject only to a clothed body search and staff will not require them to be
      exposed to a metal detection device.

Conditions of Visiting

  • Visitors are required to arrange for their transport on and off prison property. Motorized vehicles are the only authorized means of transport. Visitors arriving by any other means will be turned away at the authorized staging area or checkpoint.
  • Hours of visitation:
    • Beginning July 29, 2014, the Montana State Prison is open for inmate visitation only on Saturdays (children allowed) and Sundays (adult visitation only). Visitors arriving on any other day will be turned away. 
    • Call the prison’s toll-free phone message service for scheduling updates at 1-888-739-9122.
    • We will update this page and the phone message when regular visiting hours (Wednesday through Sunday) resume.
    • Visitors may not arrive on prison property prior to 2:15 p.m. or after 4:50 p.m. Visitors arriving prior to 2:15 p.m. or after 4:50 p.m. will be turned away.
  • On a case-by-case basis, visiting may be restricted for inmates who have restrictions in their sentencing orders related to contact between the inmate and others. This restriction may be imposed if it is in the interest of visitor safety, the security of the institution or the inmate’s rehabilitation.
    • Inmates meeting the above criteria are allowed visits only on Wednesdays and Fridays, when only adults (age 18 and over) are allowed to visit, and will receive written notice of the restriction to enable them to notify the people who are visiting them of the restrictions.
    • If an inmate is identified as meeting the requirements for the restriction, he may appeal it by submitting court papers to the security major that indicate the court orders have been changed or the restriction is in error.
  • Locked Housing
    • Inmates in disciplinary detention and pre-hearing confinement are not allowed visits.
    • To arrange/schedule a visit with all other inmates being housed in locked housing, visitors are required to call the visiting entrance post at least 24 hours in advance of the intended visit. Times to call are between 2:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday. All visits will be in LHU-I. No more than two inmate visits will be conducted at one time, and no more than five visitors may visit an inmate at any one time. Due to limited space available for visiting, visits will be terminated after 60 minutes if arriving visitors are waiting.
      • Visits for locked housing inmates from LHU-I will be on Fridays (adult only) and Sundays (minors allowed) between 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.
      • Visits for locked housing inmates from LHU-II will be on Thursdays (adults only) and Saturdays (minors allowed) between 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.
  • Visitor numbers and visiting rooms capacities
    • No more than five people (including children) may visit each inmate at one time. A visitor may have no more than one inmate visit at a time unless approved by the second-shift captain or higher authority.
    • When a visiting room is at maximum capacity no more visitors will be let in. As more visitors arrive at the Wallace Building those in the visiting room will be allowed one hour and then visits will be terminated for local visitors (those within 45 minutes driving time of MSP). If this fails to address the waiting list in the Wallace Building, ongoing visits for visitors from further away will be terminated.
    • Local visitors are encouraged to schedule their visits on weekdays, as crowded conditions occur most often on weekends.
    • Visits will not be terminated less than one hour from the start of the visit because of overcrowding of a visiting room.
  • Processing visitors into the facility
    • Visitors will be processed through the checkpoint post at the appropriate time, and will proceed to the Wallace Building parking lot.
    • If a visitor is escorted by a person(s) that isn’t visiting, the person(s) must leave prison grounds after dropping off the visitor. They will not be allowed to wait for visitors in the lobby, parking lot or on prison grounds.
    • Tobacco products are not authorized on Montana State Prison property.
    • Pets or livestock are not allowed on prison grounds. This does not pertain to animals certified to assist handicapped visitors. Any questions regarding the clearance of handicapped-trained animals will be referred to the shift commander.
    • No tractor-trailers will be allowed to park in the prison parking lot. Tractors are allowed, but must be parked at the rear of the parking lot.
    • Visiting staff will issue each visitor a “Visitor ID Badge” when the visitor is being processed at the visitor processing desk. Visitors must wear their issued badge as instructed at all times.
    • Visitors will be allowed to visit with only the following items. All other personal property items (including chewing gum, cough, drops, etc.) are to be left in the visitor's vehicle or in provided visitor lockers. Montana State Prison is not responsible for lost or stolen items.
      • One clear Ziploc-type sandwich bag.
      • Vehicle keys (2 only) and a key fob on a bare ring (nothing else on the ring).
      • State- or federal-issued identification card with a physical description of the holder, a facial photograph and current mailing address.
      • No more than $20 in pocket change or cash, with no bills larger than a $5 bill. Pocket change must be loose (no coins in rolls).
      • Medical and handicap items.
        • On a case-by-case basis, prescription medication (inhalers and nitroglycerin) in the original container are allowed in a limited amount during the visitation period. These medications will be kept in a visitor locker and will be retrieved by visiting staff if the visitor needs them during the visit.
        • Visitors who arrive with wheelchairs, walkers, canes, crutches, etc. will not be permitted to bring them to the visiting rooms.
          Visiting staff will store the items in the visiting office after providing such individuals with wheelchairs.
      • Jewelry
        • Once a visitor has been cleared for entrance they must wear any permitted jewelry items and may not remove them until they depart the facility.
          • One ring (wedding sets count as one ring)
          • One bracelet
          • One necklace
          • Jewelry items in body piercings are allowed as long as the items are visible to visiting officers. However, visitors are cautioned to refrain from wearing these items under their clothing, as they may not clear the metal detection devices, and will necessitate an intrusive clothed body search to verify the source of the item causing the alert.
    • Visitors with small babies may also have:
      • One clear empty plastic bottle or “sippy” cup per baby
      • One factory sealed container of baby food (spoons are provided in the visiting room)
      • Baby formula - one clear Ziploc-type sandwich bag containing only the amount needed for the visit
      • One factory sealed package of baby wipes
      • Four diapers*
      • One pacifier
      • Two blankets, not quilted, and no larger than 3' x 3'
        *Baby carriers or diaper bags are not allowed.
    • Visiting staff may allow visitors to bring in a limited number of checks (for endorsement by the inmate) or legal papers (to be reviewed and/or signed by the inmate). Visitors must take these documents with them when they leave the visiting room. They are not allowed to leave them with the inmates.
    • Visitors waiting to visit may not leave the lobby or visiting entrance until told to do so, and those on the same pass must remain together.
    • Visitors wishing to leave a visiting room may not leave until a departure is announced by visiting officers. The officer will usually announce the departure 15 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time to allow the visitors time to prepare to go. Those visiting on the same pass must leave together.
    • Departing visitors will not be permitted to loiter or wait an extended period for a ride. Therefore, they should make prior transportation arrangements in the event that their visit ends early or they are terminated from visiting. Visitors may be permitted to use the phone to call a taxi or make arrangements with the local law enforcement for a ride.
  • Visitor dress code and visiting room rules (see link on this page)
    • The visitor dress code and visiting room rules are established, maintained and distributed by the warden.
    • Staff, inmates and visitors may submit recommended revisions to this document to the second-shift captain, who will make the final decision on whether any modifications will be made after consulting with the security major and warden.
    • Whenever any changes are approved, the warden will sign, date and ensure copies are distributed to inform all affected parties of the new requirements.
  • Photographs
    Inmates may have photographs taken of themselves or with their visitors in accordance with the following:
    • Each inmate will be allowed to have two photographs taken per visit.
    • No hugging.
    • Inmates and visitors are allowed to put their arms around one another (above shoulder). They will ensure their hands are positioned to be visible in the photograph.
    • No gang gestures.
    • No kissing.
    • Inmates are allowed to hold their children or have their children sit on their lap for photographs.
    • The visitor will pay for the photos with the money they are allowed to bring in to the visiting room. Only staff will handle these funds.
    • Finished photos will be forwarded to the housing unit for delivery to the inmate. Photos with questionable or improper content will not be delivered and the purchaser’s money will not be refunded.

    Visiting Terminations, Suspensions, or Revocations

    • Terminations
      • With the visiting supervisor’s approval, a visiting officer may recommend termination of a visit by filling out the top section of a Visiting Termination Form and informing the visitor and/or inmate that the visit will not be allowed to proceed. The officer will immediately forward the completed form to the visiting supervisor.
      • The reason(s) for termination of a visit may include, but are not limited to, the following:
        • Substantial information/evidence exists to show that a visitor may have a harmful effect on the inmate he/she is visiting, or poses a threat to the safety and security of the facility, other visitors, staff or other inmates
        • Suspicion that a visitor is or has been under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs when checking in to visit or while visiting
        • Refusal by a visitor to submit to a pat-down search or, if requested, declines to submit to a strip search
        • Failure of a visitor to produce picture identification and their current mailing address or a visitor’s falsification of identification
        • Violation by a visitor of a visiting or other institutional rule
        • Displaying inappropriate or abusive behavior, using foul and/or abusive language, or refusing to comply with MSP rules, policies or procedures
        • Improper physical contact with an inmate
        • Improper conduct with children by the visitor or the inmate they are visiting
        • Any other activity that poses a threat to the safety and security of the facility, other visitors, staff or other inmates
      • The visiting supervisor will review the circumstances resulting in the termination and may officially suspend or revoke a visitor’s and/or inmate’s visiting privileges by filling out a Visiting Suspension/Revocation form.
      • The visiting supervisor will determine the length of the suspension or revocation based on the Visiting Rule Infractions Matrix on this form.
        • The visiting supervisor will document the reasons for the decision at the bottom of the form.
        • The visiting supervisor will provide a copy of the completed form to the visitor and/or inmate and forward a copy to the security major.
        • The notice informs the inmate and/or visitor that he/she may appeal the decision.
      • If an inmate is involved in an activity that resulted in a visiting suspension or revocation, he may be cited for a rule infraction. Any sanctions the inmate may receive through the inmate disciplinary process will be enforced independent of any suspension or revocation administered through the visiting procedures.
    • Revocations and suspensions
      • Visitors who introduce or attempt to introduce illegal articles, including, but not limited to, cell phones and data devices, money, tobacco, drugs, or weapons, will have their visiting privilege permanently revoked due to committing a serious rule infraction. If an inmate is involved, or there is evidence or documentation linking them to the introduction or attempted introduction of illegal items, his visiting privileges will be suspended for at least 365 days.
      • Violation of a major rule infraction will result in at least a 180-day suspension of the visiting privilege for the visitor and/or inmate involved.
        • A visitor who has had visiting privileges suspended for a major infraction(s) must contact the security major to re-apply after the term of their suspension is completed. If the major allows the person to re-apply, he or she must pass a current background check in order to resume visiting.
        • Visiting staff will reinstate the visiting privilege of an inmate who has had his visiting privilege suspended for a major rule violation(s) after the period of suspension has ended.
      • Violation of a minor rule infraction will result in at least a 90-day suspension of the visiting privilege for the visitor and/or inmate involved.
      • Visiting staff will reinstate the visiting privilege of a visitor and/or inmate who has had their visiting privilege suspended for a minor violation(s) after the period of suspension has ended.
      • Persons subjected to a visiting revocation may not mail postal money orders to any inmate.
      • Notifications:
        • Visiting staff will deliver the suspension notice to the inmate, have him sign it, and indicate his choice to appeal or not appeal the decision.
        • Visiting staff will deliver the suspension notice to the visitor, have him/her sign it, and indicate the choice to appeal or not appeal the decision.
      • Staff members receiving a phone call regarding the revocation or suspension of a visitor’s visiting privilege will tell the caller to address the concerns by utilizing the appeal process explained at the bottom of the Visiting Suspension/Revocation form.
      • Suspension or revocation of a visitor’s or inmate’s visiting privileges in one facility will automatically apply to all other DOC and DOC-contracted facilities.
      • An inmate’s loss of visiting privileges will not necessarily result in a corresponding loss of visiting privileges for the inmate’s visitor when the visitor is not involved in the visiting rule infraction.
    • Appeals
      • A visitor may appeal a suspension or revocation by filling out the appeal section on the Visiting Suspension/Revocation Appeal form, and mailing it to
        the security major within five days of receipt of the notice. The security major or designee will respond to the appeal within 30 days of receipt of the appeal, and mail the form with his response to the visitor. This response is final and exhausts a visitor’s administrative remedies.