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Evolution of Conjugal Visiting in Mississippi

NCJ Number
Prison Journal Volume: 69 Issue: 1 Dated: (Spring-Summer 1989) Pages: 103-109
C B Hopper
Date Published
6 pages
The conjugal visitation program at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, which began by 1918 and even as early as 1900, is a sound program, supported by inmates and staff alike.
The program began when Parchman was a racially segregated penal farm; prostitutes were also allowed to visit the prison. By the late 1950s, conjugal visiting had been extended to all male units except the hospital and the maximum security cell block. Prostitutes were no longer allowed to visit, but common law wives were. At this time, children also began to visit and inmates began to use the program to keep their families together. Eventually, prison employees began to support and improve family visitation; all units were constructed with conjugal visiting quarters, conjugal visiting was initiated for female inmates, and family visits were regularly scheduled. In two surveys, taken in 1963 and 1984, over half the inmate respondents credited the program with saving their marriages; the second benefit most often mentioned was the reduction in prison homosexuality. The Mississippi public generally favors conjugal visits for married inmates, but opposes them for single prisoners. AIDS educational material has been provided to the Parchman inmates both in terms of conjugal visits and homosexual activities. 3 footnotes, 5 references.