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Attorney FAQ

​​​What attorneys need to know about communicating with clients who are incarcerated in the Illinois Department of Corrections

All inmates in the Illinois Department of Corrections are allowed to accept confidential mail communications from their attorneys. Additionally, with advance notification, private visiting arrangements can be made for attorneys on the inmate's visiting list. General population inmates may make collect calls to their attorneys on monitored phone lines for non-confidential communications. However, arrangements for unmonitored phone calls between attorneys and clients is an exception provided on a case-by-case basis. Unmonitored calls are generally only approved if other means of communicating are not adequate and the prison is able to accommodate the call.


In determining whether the prison will make arrangements for an unmonitored phone call, the Department will take into account court deadlines, which, if missed, could prejudice the client's legal interest.


The general rules on legal mail, visits, and phone calls are set forth in the Department Rule 525. (See 20 ILAC 525). The following clarifying information is intended to help you communicate with your client.

Legal Mail

All inmates may receive privileged communications from their attorneys. Attorneys should be aware of the following procedures:
1. On the outside of the envelope, clearly mark privileged mail as "Legal" or "Privileged" and put your name, title and return address.
2. Legal mail may only contain communications from the person whose name is on the outside of the envelope. Including third party correspondence or sending non-legal correspondence as privileged mail is prohibited. Non-legal correspondence may be sent as regular mail subject to inspection.
3. Incoming legal mail shall be opened in the presence of the committed person to whom it is addressed to inspect for contraband, to verify the identity of the sender, and to determine that nothing other than legal matter is enclosed.
4. The Department will not accept faxed communications on behalf of inmates.
5. Do not include pre-embossed envelopes, pre-stamped envelopes, postage stamps or plain envelopes in the mail to the inmate.

Attorney/Client Visits

An attorney visiting an inmate as a family member or friend will be subject to the same monitored visiting policy as other visitors. The rules for visits are listed on this website under 'Visitation Rules.'


Requests for confidential attorney-client legal visits may be requested but must be approved in advance. Visiting areas for confidential legal visits are limited. Therefore, in addition to the facility visitation rules, the following additional requirements apply to legal visits:


  1. The visit must be scheduled in advance. A request for an attorney/client visit must be in writing from the attorney and faxed to the facility where the client is currently incarcerated at least two business days prior to the requested date of the visit.
  2. The written request must contain the following information:
        a. The client's name and IDOC identification number;
        b. The preferred date and time of the requested visit; and
        c. The name, telephone number, fax number, e-mail address (optional), and attorney         registration number of the attorney requesting the visit.
        d. The case name, case number, and court in which the attorney is representing the inmate.
  3. Information about where an inmate is housed as well as the facility's location and phone number can be obtained on this website under "Inmate Search" and "Facilities".
  4. The Attorney will be given confirmation either by fax or e-mail as to whether the proposed visit is granted. Attorneys who arrive at a facility without prior approval for the visit will not be allowed a confidential legal visit.
  5. Attorneys must present two forms of identification to enter the prison; one of which must be a photo ID. Identification must include the attorney's date of birth and current address. Attorneys are also required to present their current attorney registration card.
  6. Law students (Supreme Court Rule 711 certification) working with an attorney will also be allowed attorney/client visits. A law student must submit proof of 711 certification and a written statement signed by the attorney attesting that the student is working under the attorney's supervision. The written statement must also include the name of the attorney's client with whom the student is seeking a confidential visit.
  7. Attorneys arriving for a legal visit are reminded not to bring telephones, pagers, computers, or other similar electronic contraband into the facility. Additionally, tobacco products and metal binding clips are prohibited.
  8. Visitation may be temporarily suspended during an institutional lockdown. It is recommended that attorneys contact the facility prior to departure to confirm that the client has not been transferred and that visitations at the facility have not been suspended. Lockdown status for a particular facility can also be found on this website under the link to "Facilities".

Phone Calls

The IDOC is currently updating the attorney/client confidential call procedure. Attorneys wishing to speak with a client concerning confidential and privileged matters should contact the facility where the offender is housed for current procedures.

How do I serve a subpoena for an inmate's records?

A subpoena for records should be served on the prison facility where the records are located and not at the Chicago or Springfield IDOC Offices. The subpoena should be addressed to the facility 'Record Officer Supervisor.' The prison facility of any current inmate or former prison facility of any inmate on parole or mandatory supervised release can be found on the IDOC public website on the 'Inmate Search' link.


Please be advised, there are copying costs for records.

How do I serve a summons on an IDOC inmate in a civil non-IDOC-related case?

For service/summons on an inmate in a civil matter (e.g. home mortgage foreclosure, divorce, etc.), the serving party may serve the inmate through the county sheriff or by mail where allowed by law. For mail service, the inmate alone, and not IDOC, is responsible for returning the service receipt. Or, the serving party may personally serve the inmate through a private process server per the procedure set out in 735 ILCS 5/2-203.2.


IDOC does not transport inmates to court hearings in non-IDOC civil cases except per a court's writ of habeas corpus ad testificandum.

How do I Request a Summary of My Client’s Master File?

Pursuant to 730 ILCS 5/3-5-1 an Individual In Custody may request a summary of their master record file once per year and an Individual in Custody’s attorney may request one summary of their client’s master record file once per year.  The form to request a Master Record File Summary can be found here