Conjugal rights are used as a means of preserving family ties for couples married prior to the incarceration of one partner. Conjugal rights are currently offered to prisoners in medium to low security prisons. These prisoners have to undergo a number of requirements to qualify for this privilege. Indeed it is a privilege and not a right that is why it is only allowed in some and not all states. Presently the States that allow for conjugal rights are California, Connecticut, New York, Washington, Mississippi and New Mexico. The idea of conjugal visits was introduced by James Parchmann, the warden at the Mississippi State Penitentiary in 1918 in Mississippi where this privilege was offered to prisoners as an incentive so that they would be more productive in the work. Prisons offer special buildings for family visits also known as Extended Family Visits where the prisoners and their families (minimum of three members) meet and have an opportunity to catch up and be a family unit for the time. The purpose of family visits and conjugal rights is to increase the chances and the will of the prisoner to reform, be rehabilitated successfully and finally reintegrated into society. Other countries that allow for these privileges are like Canada and Russia who believe the visits are necessary for maintaining family relationships and improving the conduct of inmates while they serve their time.
Being incarcerated does not mean that one loses their parental rights. It just means that some of the parental rights are limited. Prisoners should have the right to see their children during family visits. However, this is not allowed in some instances like where the parent is incarcerated for abusing the child or the other partner. They should also have the right to know the progress of their kids in school and in society as well. Other rights that are important are the right to call home and find out how the children are doing as well as to write letters to their children. Parental rights are limited only to children below the age of 18 years.
Children, especially new born babies are allowed to live with their mothers in prison for a certain period of time. This is so because of the importance of the mother baby bond and for the proper maternal care, most importantly breastfeeding which is crucial in the initial 6 months of a baby’s life. However, for mothers to live with children while incarcerated, it is not allowed although family visits are allowed where children can visit and spend sometime with their mother(s). The prison environment is not conducive for raising children as all types of people are found there. Hence it is not even safe for kids because prison is structured as a confinement from the rest of society.
If incarcerated mothers were allowed to live with their children in prison there would be the likelihood that the children will develop queer behavior and possibly be juvenile delinquents. This is because of what they see happening in prison; fights usually break out every now and then, smoking is rampant and bad mouthing is the order of the day. There is a lot of negative influence in the prison setting. Some children having grown up in prison would see no harm in spending time there and would care less about committing crimes.