How long can a lockdown last?

This article summaries the levels and reasons for lockdowns.


It is a dreaded word for good reason.  Knowing what to expect during a lockdown  can help ease anxieties and empower you to navigate these times more effectively.

What is a lockdown and why do they happen?

A lockdown is a method of restricting movement.  This usually happens when there is a possibility of a breach in the prison’s security.  There is no rule for lockdowns in chapter 33 and declaring one is the warden's discretion.  Once the security concern is resolved the prison can return to normal operations. 

Are there different types of lockdowns?

Yes, FDC primarily uses 2 different levels of security lockdowns as follows:

  • Level II lockdowns are also known as restricted movement. These typically restrict incarcerated individuals to their quad but still allows them to use the phones and showers. They require that incarcerated individuals are escorted by an officer from place to place such as medical, chow and visitation. They do not have a time limit but typically do not last more than a day or so. Visitation should continue to take place. 


  • Level III lockdowns require written approval from Tallahassee and must be renewed every 72 hours. Typically with a level III lockdown, food is served in a brown bag in their quad, there are no call outs, limited showering, no WiFi service or phone usage and incarcerated individuals are locked in their cells or instructed to stay on their bunks.  Visitation usually does not take place on this level of lockdown.

How long do lockdowns last?

Lockdowns can last from a few hours to 3 days or more depending on the security situation and level of the lockdown.  Just remember that on a level III lockdown after 72 hours, the warden must get approval from Tallahassee to extend the lockdown until the issue is resolved.  Also, a lockdown can be lifted and the moment something happens again, a new lockdown can be initiated or the prison can transition from 3 days on level III to a longer period on level II.

Can I still visit if there is a lockdown?

Visitation is not always impacted by a lockdown.  It depends on the levels mentioned above.  Check the FDC website newsroom or email the institution to be sure.

Are quarantines and lockdowns the same?

No. Although it may feel the same, they are for different reasons.  Lockdowns are for security reasons and quarantines are to help protect incarcerated individuals and the public by limiting exposure to people who have or may have a contagious condition like COVID.