Prison and Family: How to Bridge the Distance


When it comes to visiting a loved one in state prison, distance is a deterrent for family members, according to a study released Tuesday by the Prison Policy Initiative. While about 50 percent of inmates who were incarcerated within 50 miles of home had received a visit within the past month, that number decreased to 25.9 percent for inmates living between 100 and 500 miles from home, and to 14.5 percent for inmates living even farther from relatives.

“Recognizing that their families are often the main source of hope for people during their incarceration and the main source of support upon release, correctional facilities should gather and seriously consider family input when making decisions about visitation and communication policies,” recommend researchers Bernadette Rabuy and Daniel Kopf in “Separation by Bars and Miles: Visitation in state prisons.”

Other policy recommendations include:

  • Avoid adopting “dehumanizing” visiting policies such as strip searches and dog searches.
  • Work with the Federal Communications Commission to reduce the cost of telephone calls from prison, and avoid replacing in-person visits with video visits.
  • To resolve the issue of prison overcrowding, consider sentencing and parole reform as alternatives to prison expansion and out-of-state transfers.

Read the full report HERE.

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