Essentially, a conjugal visit is a when an inmate is granted permission to spend a predetermined amount of time with a visitor (i.e. legal spouse) in a private environment. They are officially known as extended family visits, as some prisoners are allowed to spend quality time with their children, as well. The visitor will meet an inmate in a designated room or a detached structure (i.e. trailer) that is assigned to that purpose. Supplies for comfort are included, including condoms, sheets, soap, towels, etc.
Conjugal visits may be sexual in nature; however, the emphasis of a conjugal visit is to ensure that families stay together while a member of a family is incarcerated, as well as provide an incentive for a prisoner to return to a normal life. Because of recent legislation regarding marital rights, same-sex couples who are married or in a civil union are allowed the rights of traditional couples (California granted this right in 2007; 2011 in New York.)
Requirements for Conjugal Visits
There are a number of requirements needs for an inmate to qualify for a conjugal visit. First, inmates must be on good behavior in a low- or medium-security prison environment. In general, inmates must be on their best behavior and not commit any infractions 6 months before applying for the privilege of a conjugal visit. Before a conjugal visit is granted, a prisoner must also pass a health screening to ensure the safety of those who are visiting the prison. In some cases, the visitor will be similarly screened, especially for a criminal background.
Those in higher-security environment can be deemed a danger to anyone who comes into contact with them, so the privilege of a conjugal visit is typically not granted to those in this situation.
Typically, these private rendezvouses last 6 hours, 12 hours, or 24 hours at a time. Conjugal visits arent a regular occurrence, however. Only inmates that are within a year of release may be granted a conjugal visit, with a maximum of two visits within that period.
The Future of Conjugal Visits
If youve ever watched a film or television series depicting prison life, a conjugal visit may have been featured as a prominent plot point for those in prison. Unfortunately, conjugal visits are becoming a thing of the past. Conjugal visits in the United States have decreased in recent years; since 1993, seventeen states had allowed for them in prisons. Now, only four states do: California, Connecticut, New York, and Washington. With the increasing amount of prisons being privatized, conjugal visits may be completely deemed unnecessary for those who are incarcerated. For more on this subject, this site can help.