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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: Conjugal Visits

     Conjugal visits, a concept that started at the Mississippi State Penitentiary as a prisoner-control practice... [in the 1950s], will soon be over. [Prison officials]…plan to end the program on February 1, 2014, citing budgetary reasons and "the number of babies being born possibly as a result." In Mississippi, where more than 22,000 prisoners are incarcerated--the highest rate in the nation--155 inmates participated last year…..

     In the 1970s, new prisons often included special housing for what had come to be called extended family visits. But by 1993, only 17 states allowed conjugal visits. Mississippi is one of just five that have active programs. In California and New York, they are called family visits and are designed to help keep families together in an environment that approximates home. Some research shows that they can help prisoners better integrate back into the mainstream after their release. ["Some" research? What does the other research say?]

     Visits in those states, and in Washington and New Mexico, can last 24 hours to three days. They are spent in small apartments or trailers, often with children and grandparents, largely left alone by prison guards. Visitors bring their own food and sometimes have a barbecue.

     In New York, about 8,000 family visits were arranged last year, a figure that corrections officials say has declined. Of those, 48 percent were with spouses. The rest were with family members such as children or parents.

Kim Severson, "As Conjugal Visits Fade, A Lifeline to Inmates' Spouses is Lost," The New York Times, January 12, 2014 

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