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The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has announced a new tool to help friends and family visit inmates. 

The Visitation Scheduling Application app can be accessed on smartphones, tablets and computers and allows approved visitors to easily schedule their own video visits and receive instant confirmation.

The CDCR said the app will first be used to schedule video visits at four state prisons: San Quentin State Prison, Valley State Prison, the California Institution for Men and the Central California Women’s Facility.

Starting on Monday through Friday, Jan. 22, the CDCR said those who would like to schedule a visit at those facilities must create an account on the VSA system. A guide is available on CDCR’s website.

From Jan. 23-27, the CDCR said approved visitors at the four institutions will be able to start using the app to schedule visits for the weekend of Jan. 30-31.

Users will be able to choose from day and time options and they will know immediately if they were successful in securing a visiting time, the department said.

Visits will continue to be held on weekends and holidays. The CDCR said most facilities will schedule their visits between 8:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., but hours may vary. Each eligible person will be allowed a free 30-minute video visit every 30 days.

Dates on the availability of the scheduling application for additional prisons will be posted on the CDCR’s Visiting Information page. The app will be phased in at all institutions over the coming weeks, according to the department.

Visitors must follow normal visitation rules and have the necessary equipment and internet access to conduct the video visit. Daily updates on each prison’s visiting status can be found on the CDCR website. 

The CDCR said all visitors should check the VPASS Facility Status webpage before any scheduled visit to ensure the institution is still open for visiting.