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Navigating The Visitation Process In NC Prisons: Visitor Suspension

What Does Visitor Suspension Mean?

Visitor suspension occurs when visitors, who have been originally approved via the inmate visitors applications, have demonstrated 'reasonable grounds for suspension' and are therefore suspended from visitation privileges. Visitor suspensions are placed into OPUS (Offender Population Unified System), along with detailed comments, by facility staff.

What Are the 'Reasonable Grounds for Suspension'?

According to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, reasonable grounds for suspension include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The visitor has been disruptive during previous visits.

  • The visitor has attempted to visit while under the influence of alcohol or drugs during previous occasions or has attempted to bring alcohol or drugs or other contraband into the prison facility.

  • The visitor has refused to submit to a routine search, such as a search of their vehicle, property or person. Or the visitor has failed to show proper identification during a prior visit.

  • The visitor was a participant in the criminal activity for which the offender is incarcerated.

  • The visitor’s continued presence in the prison facility would undermine security considerations or corrective treatment.

  • It was later discovered the visitor provided false or incomplete information on their application.

Visitors can also be placed on indefinite Statewide suspension. However, this is generally reserved for serious violations of prison policy, such as:

  • Assisting with an escape or escape attempt

  • Smuggling or attempting to smuggle contraband, that is a threat to security, into the facility (drugs, alcohol, weapons, etc.)

  • Participating in an act of violence towards staff, offenders, or other visitors

How Will I Know IF I've Been Suspended?

The Facility Head will notify you in writing if you have been placed on suspension. The Facility Head will advise you on the reason for the suspension and whether visitation privileges are suspended for a designated period of time (i.e., six months) or permanently.

How Long Are The Suspension Periods?

Visitation privileges can be suspended for a number of time-frames. Generally, the time-frames are 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, 180 days, 365 days, and indefinite.

Is There An Appeal Process?

Yes, visitors placed on regular visitor suspension can appeal in writing to the Facility Head or their designated representative. They must request they be taken off visitor suspension and the justification for this action. Visitor suspension appeals can be appealed at any point in time.

For visitors placed on indefinite Statewide suspension, appeals can be made in writing to the Director of Prisons or their designated representative. The written appeal must contain a request to be taken off the indefinite Statewide suspension and a justification for the reinstatement. Indefinite Statewide suspensions can only be appealed at 6-month intervals beginning from the date of the visitation suspension (i.e., appealed in July if placed on suspension in January).

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