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Essay on The Effect of Conjugal Visits on Prison Violence.


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A conjugal visit refers to a period that is usually scheduled that allows an inmate locked in a prison to enjoy some time that can range from hours to days in private visitation, in most cases by their legal spouse (Rutland, 1995). During this private visit the inmate is free to engage in sexual activities with his or her partner. These visits are conducted in separate structures that are made specifically for this purpose and the couple is provided with necessities such as towels, condoms, soap and clean bed linens. However, it is important to note that not all of these visits are for intimacy purposes, and that inmates can choose close family members to pay them these visits. These visits are not free to all inmates and there are a few conditions that the inmates must meet in order to enjoy conjugal visits. For intimate conjugal visits the intimate is required to provide evidence of marriage (Rutland, 1995). Good behavior is also a requirement for one to enjoy these visits. Maximum security prisons do not allow conjugal rights and, therefore, this study will focus on minimum security prisons and medium security prisons that allow inmates to enjoy conjugal visits. The study will strive to look at the relationship between allowing inmates conjugal visits and the level of violence within the prisons. The study will strive to answer two research questions. Do inmates entitled to conjugal visits exhibit lower instances of physical violence towards other inmates? Secondly, do inmates entitled to conjugal visits show reduced instances of sexual abuse against other inmates? Any research on improving the quality of life in prison is important. This is because inmates tend to take a reformed perspective when the prison environment is not stressful. Scholars in the field of psychology will also gain from such a study as it focuses on cultures in prison. The current situation should be understood before any improvements can be formulated and implemented.

Conjugal visits are aimed at preserving family bonds between the inmates and their families on the outside (Rutland, 1995). A significant number of inmates have families on the outside. The state sees it fit to have these ties maintained in order for the inmates to have a tie with the society. Inmates are likely to be motivated to change their behavior and maintain good behavior when released if they have a nuclear family to be responsible for. They are also used by the prison administration as a mode of encouraging good behavior among inmates. This is because failure to comply with prison regulations can lead to scrapping off of the conjugal visits that an inmate is entitled to. This research is necessitated by the fact that violence in prisons is a widely occurring phenomenon. Prison violence occurs when inmates inflict bodily harm on themselves, other inmates or prison guards. There are various factors that scholars have pointed out as issues that contribute to the occurrences of such violence. These factors include overcrowding, gangs’ rivalry, and understaffing (Hensely et al, 2002). Violence can be expressed in two main methods.

The first form of violence is physical assault where inmates use crude weapons to carry out attacks. The second form of violence is sexual assault where inmates rape others despite having a population of the same gender. Conjugal visits may have a direct effect on the occurrence of sexual violence (Hensely et al, 2002). Sexual violence is very common in prisons. It is unpractical to expect prisoners to be comfortable with sexual tension they get when in prison. The prisoners are usually in different levels of sexual relationships before they are jailed. Some are normally young with many lovers while others are normally in marriages. Prisoners resort to sexual violence in order to release their sexual tension after long periods of imprisonment with people of the same gender (D’Alessio et al, 2013). Common victims of sexual violence are the young inmates who are attractive and lack physical strength to defend themselves against attacks. Such young inmates are forced into sexual submission either by physical or psychological intimidation. The perpetuators of the psychological and physical intimidation are normally inmates who have served long terms of a part of their life sentence. Sexual violence has a number of negative effects on the victims and perpetrators. Many of the inmates who initiate same gender sex are normally heterosexual (Wyatt, 2006). Therefore, engaging in homosexual sexual acts develops shame. Inmates deal with this type of shame in unhealthy ways. A significant number of them resort to physical violence against the individual they have sex with. The victims are normally more affected compared to the perpetrators. They experience shame and guilt over being unable to defend their manhood (Wyatt, 2006). Most of them resort to female-like behavior because they no longer feel like men. Other victims resort to committing suicide when they cannot take anymore of the physical and sexual abuse. A significant number of inmates who are abused incur injuries that require medical attention. Lastly, the victims and perpetrators face the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS because of engaging in unprotected sex (Wyatt, 2006). Managing HIV/AIDS in prison is hard and complicated and inmates may die from opportunistic diseases after they contract HIV/AIDS.

Some prisoners are usually psychopaths while a significant number of them fall close to being classified as psychopaths. Having prisoners maintain ties with their nuclear families help them maintain some sort of normalcy to their characters. Therefore, prisoners who are almost psychopaths do not cross over to being fully psychopaths. Conjugal visits help prisoners release sexual tension. Having contact with their loved ones may reduce irritability, and consequently the frequency of engaging in physical and sexual altercations.

References: The Effect of Conjugal Visits on Prison Violence Essay

D’Alessio, S. J., Flexon, J., & Stolzenberg, L. (March 01, 2013). The Effect of Conjugal

Visitation on Sexual Violence in Prison. American Journal of Criminal Justice

Hensely C, Koscheki M, Tewksbury R. (2002) Does participation in conjugal visitation reduce

prison violence in Mississippi? An exploratory study. Criminal Justice Review (27), 52 -65

Rutland, S. J. (1995). Examining the effects of conjugal visitations within the Mississippi

Department of Corrections: Family stability, violence, and homosexuality.

Wyatt, R. (January 01, 2006). Male Rape in U.S. Prisons: Are Conjugal Visits the Answer?.

Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law, 37.

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