Having a significant other or spouse in jail or prison is certainly not the ideal situation for either of the people involved, especially if it is for a lengthy period of time. The struggles these couples face can put serious strains on their relationship. The typical visit in a jail is a short period of time with the people on either side of a glass window talking through phones or “speaker” holes. Prison visits are a little different where they’re often contact visits in a large room for a longer period of time. These visits have to suffice for most couples facing the hardships of maintaining a relationship during the incarceration period. Some prisons in six states offer something known as a conjugal visit for selected inmates. The states include California, Connecticut, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York and Washington. During this visit spouses are allowed to spend time in a private room or apartment for the purposes of sexual relations.
To many people the concept of a conjugal visit is hard to fathom. Prison is viewed as a punishment for someone who has violated the law and giving them a privilege such as this is looked down upon by society. But conjugal visits did not start out as they are today. Historically these special visits were used as an encouragement for inmates to do their work. Dating back to 1918 these “sex visits” were used as an incentive for productivity. It does not come as a surprise that this system was extremely effective and work was consistently being done.
Over the last 40 years conjugal visits have transitioned into being used to preserve family bonds. Although they are still used as an incentive for good behavior, the idea behind the modern day conjugal visit is to keep the bonds between spouses strong. It is also suggested that these visits will reduce the likelihood of recidivism. Now, this privilege is not just granted to any inmate that is married. Each of that states that offer conjugal visits has specific requirements the offender must meet in order to be eligible. Some common requirements are that the offender is in a medium or less security prison, have no recent rule violations, and complete a health screening. Likewise, the person who is coming from the outside to a conjugal visit must qualify as well. In addition to being on the inmates approved visitor list, they must show proof of the relationship and pass a background check.