In-person visitation: Good for inmate behavior, or contraband issue?
Video visitation is great to prevent contraband, lower staffing needs and enact control over inmates, but are there downsides?
By C1 Staff
Video visitation continues to rise in popularity among jails and prisons in the U.S., but some are arguing that it places an unnecessary burden on inmate families and removes the comforting physical interaction of seeing a friendly face. Do you think in-person visitation is important for not only an inmate’s behavior while incarcerated, but also toward their eventual rehabilitation and return to society?
We took to Facebook to see how our readers felt about in-person visitation for inmates. Check out the below responses, and add your own in the comments.
Ryan St. George: I’ll take the opposite side from a lot of the other comments I’m seeing. I believe that contact with family is essential for rehabilitation, and preventing recidivism, when approached from an appropriate standpoint. I work at a correctional facility
Kelly Gualdoni: I worked at a medium security camp, pop 1660, contact visits. Contraband was at a minimum. Then went to a super-max, pop 1100, behind glass visits. Contraband was out of control.
My vote is for contact visits with increased security because there is scientific correlation that proves contact visitation can increase favorable behavior.
Warrine Terpening: Greatly depends on the visitor. The "meet an inmate".com girlfriend seems to see prison as a game and an inmate as a pet -- they are detrimental to the inmate, the facility and the real families of inmates. Parents, siblings, etc., seem to add to the rehabilitation. However, all contact visits should be earned by the inmate!
Teddi Rice: No, it allows more contraband and the inmate should have thought about his family instead of being selfish.
Jeremiah Mcintyre: I say yes and no; no because you’re right, it’s a major way for inmates to get contraband in. However, even if they don't get it through visitation, they will always find a way the get contraband into the institution.
I also say yes because it hugely plays a role in the way inmates act; they don't want to lose their visits. You also have to think about the families; a lot of the time they are the ones completely hurt in the actions their loved one chose to do to end up incarcerated. If there are kids involved, the kids are devastated. How can we punish the children? All that would tell a young child is that the system is mean and they would begin to resent law enforcement.
Ron Lovett: Visits should be done over a monitor. These convicts are the worst of the worst in society that you do not deserve to have face-to-face or contact visits and this is coming from a 20-year veteran working in the jail/prison system. If you want to hug somebody that you love, don't commit crimes.
Traci Lee: These are people who have made a long list of mistakes. If we want them to be people when they get out, and we want them to have a chance of rehabilitation, we need to stop treating them like animals while they're locked up. Denying them simple human contact is nothing short of inhumane.
Mark Skaggs: One of the first things I was taught as I started working corrections in 1986 was that you never mess with an inmates’ food or visits. I believe that is still true today. Officers just need to keep working on trying to prevent contraband entering the prisons through visiting.
Gretchen Nicole: The risk of contraband is not worth officer safety when it comes to contact visits. I think that having a visit through glass is the most logical for prisons/jail. Whether they have a contact visit or visit behind glass, they get to see their families if they behave themselves.
David Garcia: If we could, we should restrict inmates’ visits according to their record in prison. Example: low risk inmate a lot of visits. High risk inmate gets two visits a year. We use Skype in our facility and it works great. Reduced searches and contraband; more time on the front line.
Patty Kleinsmith: We have contact visiting in our jail. They are allowed a brief hug and kiss. I don't agree with it. We have a drug problem and as hard as we watch or strip search after they still get by us. There is no rehabilitation there…
Monica Buenconsejo-Chun: We recently changed to non-contact visits here in Hawaii at Halawa Correctional Facility. It has drastically reduced the amount of drugs and tobacco in our prison. Love non-contact visits.
Colby Odom: I think it helps because I see those that are allowed the contact visitation versus those that aren't. The ones that get contact are happier; they complete their course work, and are more cooperative than their non-contact visitation counterparts.
Melanie Vogt-Wheeler: I am a psych clinician and my husband is a CO, both working within CDCR. I can fully see both sides, in that the guys I work with could benefit tremendously from contact with family or other important people. However, working on an acute psych unit within a prison, my guys are not allowed contact visits which means less contraband and less risk for us and them, but some increased mental health symptoms and behavior problems. Additionally a lot of my guys want to get back to a "regular" prison so they can get contact visits with family, so refuse mental health treatment that might be beneficial. Basically, with increased/appropriate supervision I think contact visits are important.
Wendy Robison: No! They did the crime, so now we pamper them more! They get enough now, so why don't we call it Hilton Hotel for inmates instead of jail or prison!