Conjugal visits: a hot topic

A mass wedding inside a Mexican prison in 2012 (Photo: Vancouver Sun)

A mass wedding inside a Mexican prison in 2012 (Photo: Vancouver Sun)

According to “Conjugal Visitation Programs: The Logical Conclusion”, a 2002 paper by academics Christopher Hensley, Sandra Rutland and Phyllis Gray-Ray, conjugal visit programs – where inmates and their spouses spend personal time together on prison grounds – are said to have begun in the State of Mississippi at the Mississippi State Penitentiary in 1900.

The website LegalZoom, however, says conjugal visits were introduced in 1918 by James Parchmann, the warden at Mississippi State Penitentiary. Apparently he introduced the program not to preserve marriages, but to encourage the inmates to work harder. Sex was an incentive for increased inmate productivity.

Very few countries allow conjugal visits, which are quite controversial. Some people argue that they are unfair to unmarried or homosexual inmates, who do not qualify for such visits. Others argue that conjugal visits are incongruent with the idea of punishment.

Find out which countries allow conjugal visits and for whom.

Conjugal visits can also be a security risk. Watch this short news clip to see how authorities foiled one Mexican inmate’s ingenious escape  attempt  after a conjugal visit. 

In countries where conjugal visits are not allowed, inmates and their spouses were unable to have children … until recently. Watch this interesting CNN report about how Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails smuggle sperm to their spouses to get around the ban on conjugal visits.

Let us know what you think about conjugal visits.

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About witsjusticeproject
The Wits Justice Project combines journalism, advocacy, law and education to make the criminal justice system work better for all.

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