Children visiting prisons

Thousands of children in New Zealand have one or both parents in prison. Many of these children and others are taken to prison to visit. Contact between children and their loved ones in prison can support the prisoner’s rehabilitation and help families move forward after release. Corrections supports positive contact between prisoners and children through general visits and, in some prisons, through special family/whānau days.

Things to consider

Parents, guardians and caregivers should think carefully about whether it’s best for the child to visit prison.

  • Is the child visiting someone who is important to them?
  • Will the visit help the child maintain their relationship with that person?
  • How will the child benefit from the visit?
  • Is there a good reason for the visit from the child’s point of view?
  • Are there other ways the child could have contact that might be better for them? (Would they rather send a letter or a picture, or have a phone call?)

If you have concerns

If you have concerns about any child you can share them with our staff. Our staff are trained to recognise signs of child abuse and neglect. They are expected to take appropriate action to safeguard every child coming to a prison visit.

Approving Child Visitors

Children (under 18) must be approved before they can visit a prisoner. This applies even if the child has visited prison before. The application process is similar to the process used for adult visitors.

A prisoner wanting visits from a child under 18 must initiate the application process by talking to unit staff. As long as there are no Court Orders prohibiting contact, a Child Visitor Application Form will be sent to the child’s guardian to complete and return to the prison.  The application form provides details about the child’s identity and their relationship to the prisoner. Visitor application forms are not available online. Children will not be allowed to visit the prison if they have not been approved beforehand.  All approved child visitors must be accompanied by an approved adult, unless the prison director is satisfied that this is not required.

Advising the decision

If the child is approved, the child’s guardian will receive a letter to confirm this. The letter must be brought to prison every time the approved child visits.

If the child is not approved, the guardian will receive a letter to advise them. If declined, the child cannot visit.

Special circumstances

Corrections can apply conditions to visits by children under 18 to certain prisoners where appropriate. This is decided on a case by case basis.

Reviewing a decision

Prisoners and visitors have the right to review a prison visit decision that has been declined or approved with conditions (Schedule 3A, Corrections Regulations 2005). If you would like to review this decision, you can contact prison staff and they will provide you with the Prison Visit Decision Review form to complete.