Should Conjugal Visits Be Allowed? - Violence Essay Example

Should Conjugal Visits Be Allowed?

            Should conjugal visits between an inmate and his/her spouse be allowed has been a topic of hot debate since the inception of the practice in 1900 in Mississippi.  Critics have tried to denounce the practice, while proponents give evidence that the practice releases pent up energy, reduces frustration, builds family relationships and reduces violence among inmates.  In Mississippi, the practice has been available for men since 1900, while female inmates were not given the program until 1972 when the women’s prison opened (Hensley, Koscheski, & Tewksbury, 2002).

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            From all the studies considered, I believe that the conjugal visits are more helpful than harmful to the inmate population.  The rules are equal for both men and women in that they have to prove they are legally married, be in minimum or medium security,  and all visits are based upon good behavior.  This in and of itself would mean less violence in order to see the family. Plus those inmates not eligible are not jealous about the practice and actually support their fellow inmates who are married.   At the Parchman Male facility those inmates that are eligible for the visits are allowed 2 conjugal visits a month, plus a 3 day and 2 night visit once a month.  The studies show that those who are eligible are more likely to continue with good behavior.  The sex is not the important thing to most of these inmates.  It is the relationship with their spouse and family that many want to keep safe under such harsh conditions as imprisonment (Hensley, et al, 2002).

            From the information gathered, I believe that the Parchman facility has the right idea, in that the visits help the behavior of the inmates.  Another factor is that the marriages and relationships of these eligible inmates remain strong during their incarceration and are thereby less likely to end in divorce.  The verdict is still out on whether this program will make it to other prisons, but the data shows it has a positive effect, and in my opinion should be considered a viable option for those with long sentences.

References

Hensley, C., Koscheski, M., & Tewksbury, R. (2002, Spring). Does participation in conjugal       visitations reduce prison violence in Mississippi? An exploratory study. Criminal Justice        Review, 27(1). 52-65.  Retrieved March 24, 2009 from Sage Social Science Collection.

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