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NCJ Number: 83140 Find in a Library
Title: Conjugal Association in Prison - The Debate and Its Resolutions
Journal: New England Journal on Prison Law  Volume:8  Issue:1  Dated:(1982)  Pages:141-154
Author(s): A Goetting
Date Published: 1982
Page Count: 14
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article summarizes the long-standing debate over the value of conjugal visits in prisons and describes the current status of such practices at both State and Federal correctional institutions.
Abstract: Arguments favoring conjugal visits have contended that it may limit homosexuality and associated violence in prisons, improve the likelihood of a positive parole outcome, and provide a means of controlling inmate behavior. However, empirical research has failed to document these effects conclusively. A primary concern of critics lies with the smuggling of contraband by visitors, a fear which is justified by the experiences in New York and California prisons. The following States currently operate family visiting programs which allow privacy for sexual activity: Mississippi, South Carolina, California, New York, Minnesota, Connecticut, and Washington. Visits take place in specially designated facilities and are typically allowed every 2 to 3 months. Common eligibility requirements are a minimal period of institutional residency, good behavior, and ineligibility for home furloughs. A survey of States with no conjugal visiting programs indicated that home furloughs were preferred for both practical and ideological reasons. Federal standards for prisons adopted in 1980 encourage family visits for inmates, leaving the way open for a conjugal visiting program in the Federal system. A Federal task force which reviewed the literature and visited programs in California, Minnesota, and New York concluded that most were poorly run because of political and administrative difficulties and rarely benefited long-term offenders. The task force also reported that attitudes of staff responsible for conjugal visits ranged from ambivalence to negativism and that visits failed to promote good institutional conduct. Based on the task force's recommendations, the Federal system does not plan to introduce conjugal visitation but will rely on furloughs until further research supports a policy change. It is also monitoring several conjugal visiting programs initiated in Canada in 1980. The paper includes 24 footnotes.
Index Term(s): Conjugal visits; Inmate visits
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