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Contacting prisoners


Remand prisoners are allowed up to three visitors at a time, three times in each week [see Correctional Services Act 1982 (SA) s 34(2) and Correctional Services Regulations 2016 (SA) reg 39(2)]. Other prisoners are allowed one visit, of up to three people, once in each two week period [see s 34(1) and reg 39(1)].

Prisoners are allowed visits from their lawyers, which do not count as personal visits if they are for legal business [Correctional Services Act 1982 (SA) s 35(2)]. Lawyers are guided by the Department for Correctional Services Professional Visits Guide.

The Chief Executive of the Department can permit extra visits for special reasons (although this is very rare) and can also stop a particular person from visiting a prisoner.

The following restrictions also apply to visitors:

  • visitors must provide evidence of their identity;
  • visitors may see and speak with a prisoner but are not generally permitted to touch the prisoner;
  • a person who has been released from prison may not, without the approval of the Chief Executive, visit another prisoner within 12 months of the date they were released from prison;
  • a person under the age of 18 years may not, without the approval of the Chief Executive, visit a prisoner if the prisoner has been found guilty of a child sexual offence;
  • a person who the Chief Executive believes is a member of a criminal organisation, or associated with one, may not visit a prisoner without the approval of the Chief Executive.

See Correctional Services Act 1982 s 34(4).

If a person would like to request approval of the Chief Executive to visit a prisoner, they should do so by letter to:

Chief Executive Custodial Services

GPO Box 1747


The letter should cover things such as:

  • who they are;
  • their relationship to the prisoner;
  • whether they were able to visit the prisoner prior to 9 November 2012 (if applicable);
  • why they should be able to visit or continue to visit; and
  • any adverse affects of not be ing able to visit or continue to visit.

If the approval is sought for a child to visit a prisoner serving imprisonment in relation to child sex offences, the letter should also cover the child's relationship to the prisoner and whether the child was a victim of the offending.

The Chief Executive will respond to requests for approval by return letter.

Where the Chief Executive has:

  • refused to grant approval to a person to visit a prisoner; and
  • has made the decision on the basis that they are a member of a criminal organisation (or associated with one); and
  • has made the decision based on information that is classified as criminal intelligence by the Commissioner of Police;

then this information may not be disclosed to any other person, and the Chief Executive is not required to provide any grounds or reasons for the decision other than it was made in the public interest [see s 6(1) and (2)].

The Chief Executive also has the ability to exclude a person from entering, or visiting a correctional institution where the person:

  • is interfering with, or is likely to interfere with, the good order of the or security of the institution; or
  • is a member of a criminal organisation, or associates with, or has associated with, a member of a criminal organisation.

This power extends to excluding the person from all correctional institutions of a particular class, or all correctional institutions generally.

See Correctional Services Act 1982 (SA) s 85A(1) and (2).


A prisoner is entitled to send and receive letters but the Chief Executive may cause all mail, whether it is sent from or to a prisoner, to be opened and examined to check whether it contravenes section 33 of the Correctional Services Act 1982 [see s 33(4)]. The Chief Executive must advise a prisoner of any action taken in respect of any letters sent from or to prisoners [s 33(12)].

Letters sent from a prisoner to certain public authorities or a legal practitioner cannot be opened [see s 33(7)]. Similarly, if the authorised officer is satisfied a letter sent from certain public authorities or a legal practitioner, they may not open the letter [see s 33(8)].

The Chief Executive has a discretion as to what goods prisoners may receive [see s 33A].

Phone calls and other communication

Prisoners may not receive telephone calls, but may make a limited number of outgoing calls each week. The rules as to the number of calls that may be made vary from prison to prison. Prison officers can also disconnect telephone calls and prisoners are only permitted to telephone a limited number of phone numbers.

The Chief Executive has the power to monitor or record a prisoner's communication with another person. Communication is defined broadly to include conversation or message in any form or combination of forms. However, the parties to the communication must be informed about the monitoring or recording. If the Chief Executive has authorised a particular communication beforehand then the Chief Executive must not monitor or record it [see Correctional Services Act 1982 (SA) s 35A].

Contacting prisoners  :  Last Revised: Tue Apr 23rd 2019
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.