Prisons are supposed to be correctional institutes that help prisoners improve their deviant behavior and return to society as an improved citizen. Conjugal visitations have been a topic of heavy debate for many years and only a few states allow these rights including Mississippi, California and recently New York. Conjugal visits are an important aspect of serving the initial purpose of a correctional facility because they help strengthen family ties, they follow the laws of marital privacy and are in sync with the purpose of correcting the inhabitants of a prison.
First, it is important to understand the meaning of the word conjugal in order to understand the importance of conjugal visits. Usually this term is understood to be only related to sex which is not always true because it is only aspect of the rights. Conjugal rights are granted to people who are married. These rights include sharing time together, being there for each other in sickness and in health, trusting each other with intimate details of their personal lives, constructing a home, living together and cooking together. In other words conjugal rights are the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness together as a married couple. These visits should focus on more than sexual relationships with their significant others and revolve around strengthening family ties. (Wright, 1977) “Maintaining family ties is a very laudable goal that correctional administrators must at the very least try to achieve. Strong family ties are so important in the rehabilitative process and are shown to inhibit recidivism.” (Wright, 1977) The Control theory states that people who have weak bonds and relationships tend to be deviants and that people who have stronger relationships with their families are less likely to deviate. (Leblanc, 1998, p.64) Conjugal visits provide a means to secure strong family ties and help prisoners and detainees from future deviations.
Second, the right of privacy in a marriage has been under discussion in many Supreme Court cases. The government should not interfere with the rights of individuals in a marriage. The Eisenstadt v. Baird case states that married couples are two individuals entitled to the right of privacy and anything that they are free from anything that intrudes upon the freedom to make decisions privately. (Conjugal Visitation Rights, 1974, p. 400) This was concerning the use of contraceptives in a marriage and whether or not it was considered lawful. According the excerpt from the case above it is a married couple’s private a….
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