Tips for friends and families when a loved one goes to prison

What happens when a loved one goes to prison?

Upon intake, male offenders are processed through the Iowa Medical and Classification Center, located in Coralville.  Female offenders are processed through the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women, located in Mitchellville.  During the intake process, full screenings are completed and an offender's individual needs are assessed.  Each offender's custody level and permanent facility assignment are also determined.

Information regarding contacting (mail, phone, omail and visiting) your loved one may be found on the IDOC website in the How Do I section.  You may submit a request for visitation as soon as the offender arrives at intake.  However, for male offenders, stays at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center are usually short (60 days or fewer) before they are transferred to their permanent facilities. 

Incoming offenders will also be given an opportunity to purchase canteen items, including hygiene items.  You may also deposit funds to your loved one's account.  Information on how to deposit funds on an offender's account may be found on the IDOC website in the How Do I section.  Please note:  If sending funds electronically, anticipate the process for the new account in the banking system to take one week.  

What can an offender bring to for reception and classification?

New admissions are allowed to bring only a few personal items to prison including:

  • A bible
  • Address book
  • Small amount of photos
  • Any cash that you have

Any other items must be picked up by family and friends or be discarded at the county jail before arrival at IMCC  or ICIW.  This will help speed up the intake process.

Request an offender be moved to a specific facility

Due to the complex nature of facility assignments and the large number of factors that must be considered in making facility assignments, the IDOC is unfortunately unable to accommodate requests for assignments to a specific facility or geographic region within the state. 

At this time, the IDOC does not allow for hardship transfers due to a loved one's medical condition.  If an offender or family member has a desire to have an offender moved to a specific facility, they are encouraged to discuss that interest with the offender's case manager.  

Find my loved one

Current facility assignments for most offenders incarcerated in the Iowa Department of Corrections (IDOC) may be found through our online offender search accessible via the IDOC website on our Offender Search.  If an offender is being transported, their updated facility assignment will generally be reflected online within 24 hours of the move being completed.