Pros and Cons of Conjugal Visits

Conjugal visits for prisoners are always subject to controversy. While some are against it, others feel that it’s a right all prisoners should be entitled to. 

If you’ve ever stopped to consider the pros and cons of conjugal visits, then take a read:

Pros of Conjugal Visits

Encourages good behavior 

In cities or states that do not prohibit conjugal visits, prisoners are required to be on their best behavior to enjoy the privilege. Any ‘bad behavior’ automatically disqualifies them. 

Strengthens familial bonds

With a parent imprisoned, families tend to fall apart. Conjugal visits allow prisoners to spend time with their spouse, hopefully preventing a future divorce. Spending time together is especially critical for families with children.

Makes prison life safer 

Most long-term prisoners are looking for ways to qualify for privileges like conjugal visits. To qualify, they must avoid ‘terrorizing’ other prisoners, getting into fights, instigating violence, selling drugs, etc. In a paper published in 2014, Flordia International University discovered that conjugal visits decreased sexual abuse in prison alone by seventy-five percent.  

Improves end-of-term success

Since prisoners are allowed to maintain family ties, they stand a better chance of living a healthy family life once their prison term comes to an end. 

Prisoners can engage in certain family activities

Some prisons offer board games, TV/movies, and even a functional kitchen to make the visit as productive as possible, helping families bond. 

Prisoners can maintain their role as a spouse

Extremely important to keep the family together – prisoners can continue to play their role as a wife or husband.

Visits can also include other family members

Visits are not limited to just couples. They can provide an opportunity for both parents to spend time with their young children away from crowded visiting spaces. Grandparents, siblings, and cousins can all join, as well.  

Cons of Conjugal Visits

There are some safety concerns

Despite conjugal visits being a ‘family affair,’ they can be unpredictable since there is virtually no supervision in the visitation area – so anything could potentially happen. 

The increased likelihood or prison contraband

People coming in from the outside to visit their loved ones may carry illegal items with them, including drugs or even concealable weapons. A growing number of contraband-related cases have been reported as of late. 

Visits are not entirely ‘private.’

Even though conjugal visits are supposed to be mostly private, this doesn’t mean that normal day-to-day prison processes will not take place. For example, prisoners must respond to daily ‘call-outs’ at their scheduled time. 

Possible escape attempts

Some prisoners, unfortunately, take the opportunity to make escape plans. For this very reason, some states have discontinued the practice. 

Risk of STDs

The risk of sexually transmitted diseases is always there because couples-only conjugal visits permit sexual activity.

Prisoners may need to undergo intrusive strip searches 

While the concept is nothing new to prisoners, conjugal visits often mean that prisons strip-search their guests before and after the visit. Not just that, but they are also required to give a urine sample to test for drugs and alcohol. 

More single parents

Even after being provided contraceptives, many female prisoners still become pregnant and end up raising their children without the father’s support. 

Alan Behrens
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