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  • A man sits in his prison cell in an usually good mood.

  • Today is visiting day, but it's not just any visit.

  • He's going to get up close to his lover, a young woman on the outside who he wrote

  • to during his hefty sentence for robbery and murder.

  • Fast-forward a few hours and this same man calmly walks out of his cell and approaches

  • the mother of the woman, who's waiting for her in another room.

  • He walks within a few yards of her and says, “I have just killed your daughter.”

  • Welcome to the world of conjugal visits.

  • What we just told you is a true story.

  • It happened in 2017 at a prison in Villa de las Rosas, Argentina.

  • The man was 39 and his girlfriend was 20.

  • There are some additions to this dark story, though, some very, very disturbing additions.

  • The victim and the killer had had a child together, a result of a previous conjugal

  • visit.

  • The two-month-old child was actually with her when she went into his cell.

  • Fortunately, the child was not hurt at all.

  • But there's something else, this guy had killed his previous wife during another conjugal

  • visit a few years earlier.

  • He'd now killed two partners during such visits.

  • The mother of the second victim later said, “I told Andrea when she was about to give

  • birth that she should be careful of him because he is a murderer.”

  • As for the prison director, he told the media that in spite of what the guy had done in

  • the past he had every right to have a conjugal visit.

  • As you'll see today, this 'right' is a matter of huge controversy.

  • Ok, so before we get into any more tales of when things went wrong, let's first look

  • at why these visits exist in the first place.

  • The word conjugal basically meanstogetherandwife”, so a conjugal visit is when

  • a prisoner can be with his wife, up close.

  • It usually means the legal spouse, but that's not always the case.

  • It also means they have some privacy, often for the reason that the couple wants to get

  • it on.

  • That's why they will get a private room, even one filled with soaps and towels and

  • stuff.

  • As for who's allowed these special visits, it all depends on the country.

  • In those progressive Norwegian prisons, even convicted killers will for the most part be

  • afforded a nice little room where they can kiss and make love.

  • Other countries also have them, such as Germany, Russia, Brazil, and Denmark.

  • As you might already know, some prisons in South America look a bit like small towns.

  • Sometimes the prisoners seem to have the run of things, and sometimes they might even live

  • with their partner in the prison.

  • If those almost anarchic prisons changed this, there would be serious, bloody riots.

  • In the US, things are a bit different.

  • If you're in federal prison, you won't be getting a conjugal visit ever.

  • If you're in state prison, it could be a different matter depending on which state

  • you're serving time in.

  • Back in the 90s, 17 states allowed them, but after years of the public complaining that

  • prisoners needed to be treated harsher, things changed.

  • Now such visits only exist in the states of California, Connecticut, New York, and Washington.

  • Why would a prison allow them at all, some of you hardliners might think?

  • You're not alone in thinking that.

  • For instance, the UK doesn't allow them, although very low-risk prisoners might get

  • some home release time.

  • Still, the larger part of the public there, maybe spurred on by the tabloid media, is

  • dead set against such visits.

  • Ok, so before we talk more about the public, let's tell you a story.

  • Back in the 1960s, Mississippi became the first US state to allow conjugal visits.

  • Before you start thinking, oh, how progressive of Mississippi, you should hear why the state

  • did it.

  • In fact, we'll let a prison guard from back then explain in his own words.

  • When asked by a professor why such visits existed at the Mississippi prison, he replied,

  • Give 'em pork, some greens, some cornbread, and some poontang every now and then and they

  • would work for you.”

  • By 'em, he was referring to the mostly black prisoners who each day were sent out into

  • the prison cotton fields and forced to work like slaves.

  • Basically, if they worked really hard they were rewarded with a conjugal visit on Sunday.

  • As one writer years later said, “Conjugal visits are a good policy, and they got their

  • start in America for the worst possible reasons.”

  • He called the prison a “slavery-era plantationand explained that those visits were for nothing

  • else but to increase productivity and put more money in the hands of those that profited

  • from the slave labor.

  • Mississippi by the way, banned the practice in 2014.

  • That's all very negative, but these days things have changed.

  • Prisoners in some states in the US may be allowed those visits because they are seen

  • as good for the prisoner's mental health, the stability of the prison, and a way of

  • keeping families together.

  • Still, it's unlikely a prisoner will ever get one if he or she doesn't have an exemplary

  • prison record.

  • Plus, high-security prisoners or anyone on death row will never have such a visit, or

  • even anyone with a history of serious violence, especially against women.

  • In California, the prisoner will not only have to have a squeaky clean prison record,

  • but the prison will also do background checks on his family.

  • The visitor will have to wear certain clothes and they will also be rigorously checked for

  • any kind of contraband.

  • It goes without saying that no booze is allowed, neither are electronic devices.

  • Ok, so what goes down on one of these visits in the US?

  • An officer in New York working at Green Haven Correctional Facility in Stormville went on

  • record and explained this.

  • He said as part of theFamily Reunion Programor what he snidely called theFelon Reproduction

  • Program”, spouses and family can visit a prisoner in a private visitation trailer.

  • He said girlfriends were not allowed, but prisoners got around this by saying their

  • partner was a close relative.

  • As for those trailers, they have a kitchen, they have a bathroom; they have all sorts

  • of things because the couple staying in them will stay overnight.

  • That officer said there's a TV, a PlayStation, and of course, you can take in lots of food.

  • As for the DVDs on offer, nothing above a G-rating is accepted.

  • Maybe the prison thinks that by watching a horror flick or a gangster flick the prisoner

  • might find some inspiration to commit another crime.

  • When the visit is over, the inmate is tested for drugs and alcohol, but seeing as he already

  • has an exemplary record there's little chance he'd have smoked a blunt while watching

  • Muppets from Space.”

  • Things generally don't go wrong, although the officer said this:

  • There was one time that an officer was doing rounds, and heard people screaming and

  • called an emergency response to go check it out.

  • It ended up being two people…”

  • You'll have to fill in the last word yourself, because YouTube would demonetize us for doing

  • it for you.

  • According to the New York Times, just less than half of conjugal visits in the state

  • of New York are between spouses.

  • That same article cited research that concluded that those visits helped with a prisoner's

  • behavior, cut down on sexual attacks in prison, and helped the prisoner reintegrate back into

  • society after his release.

  • Not everyone agrees or has a progressive mindsight.

  • A Republican State Representative in New York commented on how babies were made during such

  • visits, something he didn't like at all.

  • He told the Times, “I don't think it's fair to the children conceived and to the

  • taxpayers.

  • You are in prison for a reason.

  • You are in there to pay your debt, and conjugal visits should not be part of the deal.”

  • Another person interviewed, the wife of a prisoner in for aggravated assault, had a

  • totally different opinion.

  • She said, “I just want people to realize it's about the alone time with your husband.

  • I understand they are in there for a reason.

  • Obviously, they did something wrong.

  • But they are human, too.

  • So are we.”

  • With those two opinions in mind, are conjugal visits a good thing?

  • Well, research in the US has indeed pointed to the possibility that they may cut down

  • on males sexually assaulting one another.

  • It happens a lot, so anything that might cut down on it would surely be welcomed.

  • A report by the Justice Department in 2012 said this, “In 2011–12, an estimated 4.0%

  • of state and federal prison inmates and 3.2% of jail inmates reported experiencing one

  • or more incidents of sexual victimization by another inmate or facility staff in the

  • past 12 months.”

  • That's a hell of a lot.

  • We found an interview in which an inmate said this, “I had no choice but to submit to

  • being the inmate's prison wife.

  • Out of fear for my life, I submitted to…”

  • Again, we can't go into details due to moderation, but he submitted to many terrible things by

  • force.

  • Many scholars have written that conjugal visits will help reduce these attacks and also reduce

  • violence in other ways inside prisons.

  • A study published in the American Journal of Criminal Justice said this, “Those states

  • that allow conjugal visits have a significantly lower number of reported prison rape and other

  • sexual violence in their prisons.”

  • Another report concluded this, “The rate of sexual violence in states that allow conjugal

  • visitation is 57 incidents per 100,000 inmates, whereas in states that do not allow conjugal

  • visitation the rate is 226 per 100,000 inmates.”

  • Still, right now it seems there is very little chance of a mass expansion of conjugal visits

  • in the US.

  • For the most part, the public's response is a state-to-state echo of, “Do the crime,

  • do the timeeven if the polar opposite of rehabilitation is happening in many prisons.

  • It's the same in the UK.

  • Not long ago, some prisoners tried to appeal to the courts by saying the prisons violated

  • the law underArticle 8 of the Human Rights Act: the right to family and private life.”

  • Some European countries, such as France and Spain, do allow such visits, but not the UK.

  • This is what some of the interviewed British public think about such visits:

  • Let them suffer.

  • That is what prison is for

  • In fact, they should only speak to outsiders through glass.”

  • Talking about glass, should prisoners even be allowed that close to visitors?

  • In 2017, news reports said that just about all US jails were ending face-to-face visits

  • even though those charged were awaiting a trial date and of course were innocent until

  • proven guilty.

  • In some jails, the inmates picked up a leaflet talking about how they could make a video

  • and it would be seen by their family.

  • The leaflet read, “Reading a bedtime story ... Never miss another moment

  • Do you want to see your loved one more often?”

  • And all this for just $12.99 per video...

  • Things can of course go wrong when prisoners get up close to visitors, as you heard in

  • vivid detail in the introduction.

  • We looked high and low for other instances when a conjugal visit has turned into a bloody

  • disaster and it seems there haven't been that many.

  • In the US, we found an instance in 1995 when a prisoner in Washington was shot by a guard

  • because he was in the process of stabbing his wife.

  • The guy, who was actually in for murder, was shot outside the conjugal-visit trailer.

  • He was hit in the shoulder and not badly injured, although his wife was in a serious condition

  • after being stabbed in the arms, neck, and face.

  • The prison after that said it would review its position on having knives in the trailers.

  • And as we said, these days it's very unlikely a convicted killer will get such a visit.

  • When we say these kinds of stories are few and far between, we mean it.

  • Conjugal visits have proven not to be any kind of problem besides these cases that happened

  • decades apart and in different countries.

  • So, safety of the prisoner doesn't seem to be an issue.

  • Budget is, as if the possibility of bringing in contraband, although if the prisoner has

  • been exemplaryand with this enticement, you'd think many would try to behe

  • might think twice about breaking the rules.

  • With that in mind, you have to look at what just happened in Texas.

  • Just recently the state stopped in-person visits and limited mail due to the pandemic.

  • The state thought it would see fewer drugs in prisons, but that didn't happen at all.

  • According to the Marshall Project, the vast majority of drugs were being brought in by

  • guards.

  • The Texas Tribune wrote, “Staff members and prisoners say the problem is worse, and

  • agency data shows guards are finding just as many drugs and writing up even more prisoners

  • for having them.”

  • In one prison there were more drugs than ever, because due to social distancing, guards were

  • not searching each other.

  • You can find similar reports in the UK that say officers bring in possibly the largest

  • amount of drugs, and even weapons and mobile phones.

  • We're just making this point because many anti-conjugal visit people are anti because

  • of this reason, thinking these visits will mean prisons will become awash with drugs.

  • Err, they already are.

  • Still, visits are a major reason for that, too, so conjugal visits would have to be very

  • controlled.

  • What it really boils down to, though, is a matter of public sentiment.

  • Much of the public is against conjugal visits simply because they believe prisoners have

  • committed a crime and should have the right to intimacy taken away from them, lest prison

  • time becomes too easy.

  • We wonder what you viewers think.

  • Now you need to watch, “Insane Ways People Have Smuggled Things Into Prison.”

  • Or, have a look at, “Why Prisons Ban These Everyday Items.”

A man sits in his prison cell in an usually good mood.

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What Actually is a Conjugal Prison Visit

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    Summer posted on 2021/06/18
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