why did conjugal visits stop

Once upon a time, conjugal visits were a common occurrence for inmates in prisons across the United States. However, in recent years, it seems that these visits have been discontinued, much to the dismay of prisoners and their loved ones. It didn’t happen all of a sudden, but rather, it was a gradual shift that occurred over several years.

Many people wonder why conjugal visits have stopped, and the answer is not a simple one. There are many factors at play, including budget cuts, rising concerns about security, and changing attitudes towards the rehabilitation of criminals. These factors have led correctional facilities to rethink the role of conjugal visits in the prison system and to ultimately put an end to them. As a result, prisoners are left without the chance to spend intimate moments with their partners or spouses, and families are forced to seek alternative methods of communication.

History of Conjugal Visits

Conjugal visits, also known as extended family visits, are authorized visits between inmates and their intimate partners. The practice became popular in America in the early 20th century when Mississippi started allowing female prisoners to have private visits with their husbands. Before this, the majority of prison visits were rigid and supervised. Conjugal visits were introduced to boost morale among inmates and reduce behavioral problems. It was believed that allowing couples to spend time in privacy would help maintain family relationships and decrease the temptation to engage in sexual activity illegally while incarcerated.

During the 1930s, some states adopted the practice of conjugal visits, and by the 1940s, they were widespread across the United States and other parts of the world. They became an essential aspect of rehabilitative and restorative justice, permitting inmates to maintain contact with their loved ones.

However, throughout the 1980s and 1990s, conjugal visits declined in popularity, and today, only a few states and countries allow extended family visits. The gradual reduction of these visits can be attributed to several primarily political reasons. During the 1980s, a “tough on crime” mentality emerged, and politicians began pushing for harsh punishments and removing “comforts” for prisoners, such as conjugal visits. In addition, the HIV and AIDS epidemic led to concerns about the spread of sexually transmitted diseases among inmates. These two factors contributed to the decline of conjugal visits in some areas, and they are rare in most countries today.

Controversies surrounding conjugal visits

Conjugal visits, also known as extended family visits, are a program in prisons that allows inmates to have private visits with their partners or spouses. There have been some controversies surrounding this program over the years, including the following:

  • Misuse of conjugal visits: There have been cases where inmates have used conjugal visits to smuggle contraband, such as drugs and weapons, into the prison. In addition, some inmates have used these visits as an opportunity to plan further criminal activities.
  • Perceived privileges: The idea of allowing inmates of the opposite sex to spend time alone with their partners or spouses has been perceived by some as a privilege, while other inmates who are not married or in a relationship do not have the same opportunity.
  • Moral concerns: Some people argue that allowing sexual relations in prison promotes immoral behavior and goes against the idea of prison as a punishment for criminal activities.

Impact on prison staff

Conjugal visits also have a significant impact on prison staff and resources. While the visits are intended to promote family ties and reduce the risk of inmate violence and misconduct, they also require additional staff time and resources to coordinate and monitor.

According to a 2009 study by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the cost of implementing conjugal visits in the prison system could be significant. The study found that the program would require additional staff time, training, and resources, which could cost up to $15 million per year. In addition, prison staff may be exposed to some risks during these visits, such as contraband smuggling and sexual harassment.

Alternatives to conjugal visits

While conjugal visits may have some benefits, including reduced tension and violence in prison, there are also alternatives that could achieve the same goals without the same risks or costs. Some of these alternatives include:

  • Extended family visits: This program allows inmates to spend an extended period with their family members, including children, siblings, and grandparents. These visits are less intimate than conjugal visits, but they can still promote family bonds and provide inmates with much-needed support.
  • Rehabilitation programs: Providing inmates with access to rehabilitation programs, such as job training and education, may help to reduce the likelihood of recidivism and increase their chances of successful reentry into society.

The future of conjugal visits

Despite the controversies and costs associated with conjugal visits, some advocates continue to push for their widespread adoption in prisons. They argue that these visits promote family values and can have a positive impact on inmates’ mental health and behavior.

Pros Cons
Reduce tension and violence in prison Costly to implement and monitor
Promote family bonds May expose staff to risks and challenges
Positive impact on inmates’ mental health and behavior Perceived as a privilege and immoral by some

The debate surrounding conjugal visits will continue to be a controversial topic in the criminal justice system. While there may be benefits to this program, it is important to consider the potential risks and costs associated with it. It is also important to explore alternative methods of promoting family ties and rehabilitation in prisons that may be less costly and risky.

Reasons for discontinuing conjugal visits

Conjugal visits, also known as extended family visits, are scheduled periods of time for inmates to spend intimate time with their spouses or domestic partners in a private setting. However, many prisons discontinued conjugal visits over the years due to various reasons:

  • Budgetary concerns: Some prisons discontinued conjugal visits to save money. These visits require more staff to oversee and provide security, as the inmates and their visitors are allowed to be alone in a private setting for an extended period of time. The extra staffing and security measures increase the cost of maintaining the prison.
  • Another reason for discontinuing conjugal visits is security. While the prison staff does their best to control the environment, there is still a risk that drugs, weapons, or other contraband could make its way into the prison through visitors. Additionally, there is a risk that inmates could use these visits to plan or carry out escape attempts or engage in other illegal activities with their partners.
  • Some prisons discontinued conjugal visits due to political pressure. Politicians who are tough on crime often use the discontinuance of conjugal visits as a way to show that they are taking a tough stance on criminals. It is a way for them to show that they are not willing to allow inmates any luxuries or privileges.

    The impact of discontinuing conjugal visits

    Discontinuing conjugal visits can have a profound impact on inmates, their partners, and their families. Many would argue that these visits are crucial for maintaining strong relationships and healthy families, which can ease the transition for prisoners as they reintegrate into society once their sentence ends.

    Studies have found that conjugal visits can reduce incidents of disciplinary issues among inmates, lower recidivism rates among married inmates, and improve mental health outcomes for both inmates and their partners. Additionally, the children of inmates who are able to maintain strong relationships with their incarcerated parents have better outcomes later in life.

    The future of conjugal visits

    While many prisons have discontinued conjugal visits, some are still available in certain states, such as California and New York. These programs have strict eligibility requirements and guidelines to ensure that both security and safety are maintained.

    State Availability of conjugal visits
    California Yes, for married inmates with no disciplinary issues and serving an indeterminate sentence
    New York Yes, for married inmates with no disciplinary issues and serving a sentence of 30 years or more
    Arizona No
    Florida No

    As prisons continue to grapple with the cost and security concerns associated with conjugal visits, it remains to be seen whether these programs will gain traction in the future or if they will become a thing of the past.

    Impact of Conjugal Visits on Prison Reform

    Throughout the years, conjugal visits have been viewed as a way to reduce the violence and tension within a prison setting. In recent studies, it has also been suggested that such visits may improve the rehabilitation process for inmates, reducing their likelihood of reoffending upon release.

    • Reducing Violence: By allowing inmates to spend quality time with their partners or spouses, it can reduce the frustration, loneliness, and anxiety they may be experiencing in prison, which can often lead to violent outbursts and other negative behaviors. When inmates are given the opportunity to connect with loved ones, they are more likely to reflect on their actions and work towards positive changes.
    • Improving Rehabilitation: Conjugal visits offer inmates with a sense of hope and belonging, which can lead to improved mental health, reduced recidivism rates, and ultimately, better re-entry into society. It provides them with motivation to stay on the right path and shows them that they have something to work towards – a life beyond bars.
    • Reducing Sexual Assault: With conjugal visits, inmates are given a safe and regulated environment to express their sexual desires, which can ultimately reduce the likelihood of inmates engaging in violent sexual assaults or relationships within the prison walls. It provides them with a safe outlet to explore their sexuality without having to resort to violence or aggression towards fellow inmates or staff members.

    While the benefits of conjugal visits can certainly not be ignored, it is important to note that it may not be suitable for every inmate and should be viewed on a case-by-case basis. Additionally, it is important for authorities to closely monitor these visits to ensure safety and that they are not being used as a form of exploiting or engaging in illegal activities within the prison premises.

    Ultimately, the implementation of conjugal visits should be seen as part of a larger effort toward prison reform and rehabilitation. By investing in these types of programs and initiatives, we can help to create a safer and more productive society for all.

    Alternatives to conjugal visits for prisoners

    While conjugal visits were previously an option for prisoners to maintain relationships with their partners and families, there have been several alternative methods introduced to support this need. Here are some alternatives to conjugal visits for prisoners:

    • Video Visitation: Technology has allowed for video visitation, where prisoners can talk to their loved ones through video chats. This method has become popular among prisons, as it eliminates the logistical difficulties of organizing visits with family members and enables prisoners to maintain a consistent connection to their family and children.
    • Phone Calls: Most prisons still allow phone calls, which can be made regularly. Phone communication is an adequate solution for those who cannot use video visitation. It enables prisoners to call their family members regularly, and share life updates, which can be therapeutic and much needed for both parties.
    • Email Communication: Some prisons have introduced email communication for prisoners and their families. Email communication enables prisoners to keep in touch with their families quickly, without having to wait for physical mail. It is a safe and secure way to communicate, and messages can be delivered within a few seconds.

    Research has shown that prisoners who maintain steady relationships with their families while serving their time have an easier time transitioning back into society when they are released. However, these alternatives to conjugal visits have also come with their implications. For example, video visitation has been criticized for its high costs, which often result in families unable to afford to stay in contact with their loved ones.

    Therapeutic Programs for Prisoners

    Aside from these alternative methods, there has also been a push for more therapeutic programs for prisoners to help them maintain healthy relationships. Such programs include behavioral therapy groups, communication classes, and family events and workshops within the prison walls.

    Behavioral therapy groups focusing on family relations have shown effectiveness in several studies. For example, a 2019 study by the National Institute of Justice found that family therapy and counseling in prison facilities for families significantly improved communication and reduced symptoms of anxiety, depression, and trauma for families. These programs provide much-needed support to both prisoners and their family members who may be struggling and aid in family reunification upon release. This system can also help break the cycle of incarceration and have long-term benefits for the community and society as a whole.


    As the number of prisoners in correction facilities continues to grow, it is essential to consider their basic human needs, such as maintaining relationships with their loved ones. While conjugal visits were a traditional way for prisoners to maintain relationships, alternative methods such as video visitation, email communication, and family therapeutic programs offer cost-effective methods of communication that promote communication and well-being for both prisoners and their families.

    Alternatives to Conjugal Visits Pros Cons
    Video Visitation Convenient, reduced logistical difficulties Expensive
    Phone Calls Cost-effective, convenient Restricted by access to phones, can be monitored
    Email Communication Cost-effective, safe and secure Restricted access to email, not always as personal as other methods

    These alternative options enable prisoners to keep in touch with their loved ones and adjust back to society upon release with a support system.

    Psychological effects of conjugal visits on prisoners and their family

    Conjugal visits, also known as extended family visits, is a process where inmates are allowed to have an intimate visit with their spouse or partner within the prison walls. While these visits are meant to strengthen the bond between the prisoner and their significant other, they have often been a subject of controversy due to the possible psychological effects on both prisoners and their families. Here, we discuss in detail the psychological effects of conjugal visits on prisoners and their families.

    • Decrease in depression and anxiety: Studies have shown that regular conjugal visits can reduce depression and anxiety levels in prisoners. This is because such visits act as reminders of the world outside the prison walls, which can be a source of hope and positivity for inmates who are often consumed by loss of freedom and the negative consequences of prison life.
    • Increase in self-esteem and sense of responsibility: Conjugal visits are exclusive to well-behaved prisoners, which means that the right to enjoy such visits is earned through good conduct. As such, prisoners who get the chance to be with their loved ones feel a renewed sense of pride and responsibility, as they can now make their spouses or partners happy by being on their best behavior.
    • Improved familial relationships: Conjugal visits provide an opportunity for families to come together and interact in a way that is not possible during regular prison visits. The absence of time constraints and the relaxed atmosphere can lead to the strengthening of bonds between family members, improving their overall relationship outside of the prison walls.

    While there are psychological benefits for prisoners involved in conjugal visits, it is also important to consider the impact on their families.

    For families, a visit to prison can be a traumatic experience and conjugal visits may exacerbate these feelings of trauma. As a result, some families may choose not to participate in such visits due to the emotional burden of visiting their loved one in such a limited time frame. In addition, families may feel resentful towards the prisoner, feeling that they are being asked to bear the cost of the prisoner’s actions.

    Overall, it is clear that while conjugal visits can have positive psychological effects on prisoners, it is important to also consider the impact on their families. More research is needed to fully understand the long-term effects of conjugal visits, but for now, it is important to weigh the benefits and costs of such visits before implementing them in prisons.

    Pros Cons
    – Decreases depression and anxiety levels – Can be traumatic for families
    – Improves self-esteem and sense of responsibility – Can lead to resentment from families
    – Strengthens familial relationships

    It is clear that while there are benefits to conjugal visits, they can also have negative consequences. Ultimately, the decision to implement such visits in prisons must take into consideration both prisoner and family well-being.

    Comparison of Conjugal Visit Policies in Different Countries

    Conjugal visits, also known as private family visits, are allowed in several countries around the world. However, the policies and regulations differ from one country to another. The following are some examples of how different countries handle conjugal visits:

    • Spain: Conjugal visits are granted to inmates who are serving long-term sentences (more than 10 years), have a spotless record, and have maintained a stable relationship with their partner for at least 3 years. The visits can last up to 48 hours and take place in a private room within the prison.
    • Brazil: Inmates who have been convicted of certain crimes, such as drug trafficking, terrorism, or sexual offenses, are not allowed conjugal visits. For those who are eligible, the visits can last up to 72 hours and take place in a private apartment built within the prison grounds.
    • United States: While conjugal visits used to be allowed in some states, they have been largely abolished since the 1990s due to concerns about security and morality. California is one of the few states that still allows conjugal visits, but only for married couples and domestic partners who live more than 100 miles apart.

    These examples highlight the variation in policies across different countries. Some countries prioritize the psychological benefits of maintaining family relationships and offer conjugal visits as a way to boost inmate morale and prevent social isolation. Others are more concerned with safety and security within prisons and restrict or prohibit conjugal visits altogether.

    What do you think about conjugal visits? Should they be permitted as a means of supporting inmates’ mental health and maintaining family relationships, or do you believe they pose too much risk to prison security? Let us know in the comments.

    FAQs about Why Did Conjugal Visits Stop:

    1. What are conjugal visits?

    Conjugal visits are supervised visits that allow prisoners to have physical contact with their spouse or domestic partner.

    2. Why did conjugal visits stop?

    Conjugal visits stopped for a variety of reasons, including budget cuts, safety concerns, and changes in prison policies.

    3. When did conjugal visits stop?

    The exact date of when conjugal visits stopped varies by state and country. Some prisons stopped offering conjugal visits in the 1990s, while others still allow them today.

    4. Who decided to stop conjugal visits?

    The decision to stop conjugal visits was made by various government officials, including prison administrators and lawmakers.

    5. Are there any benefits to conjugal visits?

    Proponents of conjugal visits argue that they improve the mental health of prisoners and strengthen family relationships.

    6. Are there any alternatives to conjugal visits?

    Some prisons offer virtual or phone visits as an alternative to conjugal visits.

    7. Will conjugal visits ever come back?

    It’s unclear if conjugal visits will ever come back, as it ultimately depends on the policies and budget decisions of individual prisons and governments.

    Closing Title: Thanks for Reading!

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