Offender in Custody

This section describes some of the ways you can keep in touch with your loved one or friend if he or she is being held in custody.

If your family member or friend is a youth, then they are treated differently. See Youth Justice for more information.

Keeping in Touch with an Offender in Custody

If your loved one or friend is being held in a correctional centre, you may keep in touch with them by telephone, mail or regular visits.

If they are serving a sentence of less than two years, they will be in a provincial correctional centre. To find out where your loved one or friend is being held or to get in touch with them, contact the Ministry of Justice at 1 888 952-7968 during regular business hours. Be sure to have the full name and birth date of the person you are looking for.

The unit cannot tell you where your loved one or friend is located because privacy laws require that information be kept confidential. But if the person you are looking for is in custody in a provincial correctional centre, they can pass on a message to your loved one, who may then contact you.

If your friend or loved one is serving a sentence of two years or more, they will be in a federal correctional centre. See the Correctional Service of Canada for more information.

Telephone Calls

Telephone calls can be an important way to keep in contact with your family. You cannot call your loved one or friend, but they can call you. Telephone access is provided on the inmate telephone system. An allowed call list is set up for each offender. If you do not want to receive any phone calls from the offender, you can ask the correctional centre to have your phone number removed from the allowed call list.

Sending Mail

When you are unable to visit your loved one, mail is a good way to keep in regular contact.  Contents of mail sent to or by an inmate are examined, but mail sent by the inmate is usually not read. However, if correctional centre staff have reasonable grounds for concerns about the safety of the person the letter is sent to or about the security of the correctional centre, they will not allow the letter to be sent.

Visiting an Offender

Family members and friends will usually be granted approval to visit an offender. Corrections staff will review your suitability for visiting privileges. If they have reasons for concern, a visit may not be approved. While there are several reasons why a visit might not be approved, in general, the decision is based on the security of the correctional centre and safety of the visitor. 

If your loved one or friend is serving a sentence of less than two years they will be held in a provincial correctional centre. Call the correctional centre where they are being held to get information about visiting rules.  

If your loved one or friend is serving a sentence of two years or more they will be held in a federal correctional centre, you will need approval from the Correctional Service of Canada to visit them. The first step is to fill out and submit the visiting application and information form. For more information and to obtain this form, visit the Correctional Service of Canada website.