Oregon prison officials are working to improve connections between inmates and their families, a response to studies that show prisoners who get visits are less likely to return to prison, reports the Oregonian. The basis is a November 2011 report by the Minnesota Department of Corrections that concluded visitation from siblings, in-laws, fathers and clergy “significantly decreased the risk of recidivism.” The study suggested more “visitor friendly” prison policies.
Oregon officials discovered that 59 percent of the 14,000 state prisoners got no visitation. They set up a working group to improve that dismal percentage and recently circulated a survey to inmates to help guide ways they could improve visitation. Corrections officials also considered setting up prisoners with trained volunteer mentors and relaxing visitation rules for inmates who are in disciplinary housing units. They have also increased visiting hours and special events.