Are Conjugal Visits Allowed in California?

Posted by Raoul Severo | Oct 04, 2020 | 0 Comments

One of the main purposes of a prison is to isolate an individual, specifically a criminal, from the rest of society with hopes of rehabilitating that person. With the rehabilitation comes the just removal of some of that person's rights. This includes the temporary withdrawal of the right to freedom, to go wherever one desires to, depending on the length of his/her sentence. That means that the prisoner will have to leave the people he/she is acquainted with - friends, families, everyone. He/she would have to serve his/her sentence far away from them. To some, if not all, people, that would be the worst possible. However, in some countries, aside from the regular prison visits where an inmate can spend a short amount of time (around one to two hours every couple of weeks), there exists a thing called Conjugal Visits.

What is a Conjugal Visit?

A Conjugal Visit is a type of visitation privileges given to some inmates of a specific prison where one can spend a short period of time with his/her visitor (usually the legally recognized spouse) in private. These usually last around several hours up to days. During the entire duration of the stay, the inmates and their visitors may engage in sexual activity if they desire to do so.  By doing so, the Penal System aims to maintain the bonds between the prisoner and his/her family. So, when the eventual release happens, it will be easier for the soon to be ex-convicts to acclimate and rejoin society. While inside, the visitor is obliged to follow the rules inside the facility.

Which states allow Conjugal Visits?

Although the United States is one of the very few countries which allow conjugal visits, not every state in America provides that privilege. As of 2020, only a handful of states are currently allowing conjugal visits. These are California, Connecticut, New York, and Washington.

In the US, the Federal Bureau of Prisons declared that only prisoners under the states' jurisdiction allowing the visits are eligible. Conjugal visits would not be permitted in federal prisons. Since the state allows the special privilege, the parties involved are supposed to follow the state's specific prison rules and regulations. This is to ensure that the stay's duration would be as smooth as possible for everyone to avoid violations and offenses.

California Conjugal Visits

In California, conjugal visits are only given to legally married couples. The inmate and his/her visitor are sent to a special private place to do anything they please as long as it is legal. Usually, these are separate rooms inside the facility, trailers, and/or cabins. Many of which are stocked with basic necessities like condoms, linens, soaps, and other toiletries.

During the visits, the prisoner and visitors can do any legal activities under the state's conditions.  Some even have board games in their rooms that they can use to keep them occupied. Although, most, if not all, prisoners use this time to engage in sexual activities with their partners. Lastly, the correctional officers occasionally check on the prisoners and observe what is happening to avoid unnecessary violations.

Who's qualified for Conjugal Visits?

Although in some places, family members (even extended families) are allowed to stay during the visits; some might even allow more than one person to stay, in California, only the legally recognized spouse is allowed to visit. Mind that conjugal visits are privileges, not rights, that is why only a handful of individuals are allowed to get it.

  • First, high-security facilities are not given conjugal visits; only inmates in medium or low-security prisons are given this privilege.
  • Second, only prisoners with good moral backgrounds are allowed to have the visits. Some facilities see this as a reward given to the people who are actually trying to change their ways in prison.
  • Third, the visitor must have clean moral, criminal, and physical records, and he/she should also be free from sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Fourth, the visitor must be subjected to lawful searches during his/her entry to the facility. No drugs, alcohol, or any electronic devices shall be allowed inside. This is to avoid the smuggling of contrabands inside the facility.

As of 2007, the California courts allowed legally recognized same-sex couples to participate in conjugal visits.

Legal Support

Conjugal visits are highly monitored and regulated, the laws that oversee them are different per state. That is why if you feel like you are being unjustly barred from this privilege or your rights have been violated while inside the facility, it would be best if you inquire with our experienced lawyers. That is to avoid any issues and violations that might create unnecessary problems.

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