Mississippi Phasing Out Conjugal Visits For Prison Inmates

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Turkey began letting their inmates have conjugal visits in 2012. They’re even allowed in Saudi Arabia and Iran, countries infamous for their repressiveness, but in all but six states in our country they’re forbidden, says New Orleans Times-Picayune columnist Jarvis DeBerry. One of those six exceptions has been Mississippi. In fact, it’s believed that around 1900, Mississippi became the first state to offer sex as a reward for good behavior. As groundbreaking as it was, Mississippi’s conjugal visit program is said to be in its last weeks. Come February, says Corrections Commissioner Christopher Epps, conjugal visits will be a thing of the past.

Epps told the Jackson Clarion Ledger he thought conjugal visitations had a positive influence on prisoners’ behavior, had helped keep families intact and probably reduced sexual assaults among inmates. During the last fiscal year, only 155 inmates out of 22,000 were deemed eligible to participate, but Epps says the program has become too expensive to operate. Is it really the money, or is it that the program’s become a political target for Mississippi politicians who find the policy uncomfortably liberal, DeBerry asks? Some people favor making prisons as hellish as humanly possible and think depriving prisoners of every comfort is the whole point of prisons. People who run prisons often say it’s easier to keep order if prisoners are given something that can be taken away if they break the rules.

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