Contact visitation is one of the most important conduits a prisoner has to a world left behind: family and friends. No other program, except Extended Family Visitation, contributes more to a successful transition and reentry to society than contact visitation. After all, it is through this conduit that information is exchanged on an emotional level, stimulating development of mental and moral growth. Contact visiting confers on a prisoner a semblance of humanity which is crucial to developing empathy – a real deterent to recidivism.
Our participation in contact visitation is not a right, but a privilege extended to the prisoner and visitor alike. The authority governoring contact visitation is DOC 450.300 Visits for Prison Offenders. The following will address two issues for your consideration: (I) Application/Approval and (II) Denial/Suspension.
I. Application/Approval Process
A. Please go to: doc.wa.gov, review DOC Policy 450.300 and click on the link to fill out an on line visitation application.
B. Visitors with a minor child must provide a certified or notarized copy of the birth certificate, attaching it to the on line application, or by mailing it to the prisoner’s assigned counselor. See DOC 450.300 Directive (IV)(A)(1).
C. If you are mailing any of the required documents, please make two copies of all relevant documents (one copy for your records and the other for mailing to the facility), with a cover letter addressed to the prisoner’s assigned counselor. Include in the letter a complete description of all documents sent. When you mail the documents ensure it is sent first-class, certified mail. The certified mail will provide you proof of receipt by the facility. You can go to USPS.com, Track and Confirm, for free confirmation/proof of receipt. This is crutial because sometimes staff play games, such as:
(1) You’re informed that your documents have been misplaced, despite the fact that you mailed all the relevant documents and you have proof receipt. If this occurs, simply make a copy of your file copy and mail it to the facility superintendent explaining the situation, asking that he/she ensure your packet is properly processed.
(2) You’re informed that a birth certificate or a marriage certificate is missing, despite the fact that you mailed all the relevant documents and you have proof receipt. If this occurs, simply make a copy of your file copy and mail it to the facility superintendent explaining the situation, asking if there is an identity theft ring operating within his/her facility, requesting that he/she ensure your packet is properly processed.
D. The approval process should take no more that 21 calendar days. If you or the prisoner are not notified within that time frame, contact the prisoner’s assigned counselor, preferably by email (to create a record) or by phone, asking for a deadline for completion. If you are not satisfied with the response, then go to David’s Heart Part VIII Accountability Act and follow the instructions.
II. Denial and Suspension
A. If you receive notice of a denial or suspension of your contact visitation privilege (See DOC 450.300 Directive (VIII)), file an appeal with the facility superintendent where the denial/suspension occurred (See DOC 450.300 Directive (X)) using the process outlined in David’s Heart Part VIII Accountability Act.
It is important to establish the facts, based on evidence obtained through a Public Records Request . (PRR). Submit a PRR to the DOC Public Records Unit (See David’s Heart Part IX Public Records Act) requesting a copy of all emails, incident reports, behavior reports, incident reports, confidential information reports, OMNI entries and any other documents which discuss the reason for the denial/suspension. After receiving all relevant records write an appeal supported by the evidence you’ve obtained stating the facts: who, what, when, where and how. It is extremely important to include how the denial/suspension has personally impacted you and/or your children, requesting the superintendent approve/reinstate the privilege depending on the course of action taken by the facility.
B. If the appeal is denied, then appeal to the secretary of DOC following the instructions provided in David’s Heart Part VIII Accountability Act.
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Categories: Michael Holmberg