Please Bring back Visitation/Family Photography to Mississippi Prisons
This petition had 739 supporters
We are petitioning to ask for family photographs to be brought back into Mississippi’s State, Regional, and Private Prisons. We understand why the Mississippi Department of Corrections stopped this practice but we also know that Mississippi is one of very few states in the country that does not do them and they all have statutes similar to ours that are not interpreted to prohibit this practice. We are aware of the statute that addresses the issue of photographs taken in visitation rooms: “Miss. Code Ann. § 47-5-193 (2012) § 47-5-193. Prohibitions generally It is unlawful for any officer or employee of the department, of any county sheriff's department, of any private correctional facility in this state in which offenders are confined or for any other person or offender to possess, furnish, attempt to furnish, or assist in furnishing to any offender confined in this state any weapon, deadly weapon, unauthorized electronic device, cell phone, or any of its components or accessories to include, but not limited to, Subscriber Information Module (SIM) cards, chargers, etc., or contraband item. It is unlawful for any person or offender to take, attempt to take, or assist in taking any weapon, deadly weapon, unauthorized electronic device, cell phone or any of its components or accessories to include, but not limited to, Subscriber Information Module (SIM) cards, chargers, etc., or contraband item on property belonging to the department which is occupied or used by offenders, except as authorized by law.” We are also aware that “otherwise authorized by law” could quite easily include authorized photographs taken in authorized locations by authorized persons. It should not be that difficult to otherwise authorize family of the incarcerated to purchase photographs with our husbands, brothers, dads, uncles, aunts, wives, sisters, grandmothers, grandfathers, etc. at visitation, even if only a few times a year and at graduation and wedding ceremonies. We have all witnessed corrections officers walk around the visitation room with cell phones, radios, blue tooth headsets, and more in our years of visiting so why is it that a corrections officer cannot work a few extra hours a few times a year to take photos of family members with their incarcerated loved one for the families/ inmate to purchase? What would be the difference and why is M.D.O.C. so dead set against it? Is it really too much to ask that we have pictures with our loved ones?
We have read about how Marshall Fisher, while commissioner, wanted to make Parchman more like Angola, and fully support that idea, but this specific policy would have to change drastically to authorize inmates’ access to certain technology to have their own television and radio shows, and Louisiana prisons allow the families to take photographs together for purchase on canteen, along with wood working tools and miscellaneous craft supplies and furniture pieces. We know it would be great for inmates to have things to live for like the inmates in Angola live for the Angola Prison Rodeo and Craft Show.
Many states have visitation photographs, and although we chose not to address the profit since most states deposit the money directly into inmate funds or directly into charities, we did find out as much as possible about how they are done and purchased. We feel this information would be beneficial to share with you and give some ideas on how this can be done safely and cost efficiently. Other states in the nation handle their visitation/family photographs as follows:
There are currently six out of fifty states in the nation do not allow this practice. Alaska, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Mississippi, and Utah are the only states that do not allow photographs during visitation and/or similar options. Hawaii’s department of corrections is looking into options to make visitation/family photographs available for holiday seasons. Vermont has not had any requests for the practice but we were told if requests were made it could be done provided certain rules and procedures were followed. There are specific facilities in other states that do not allow it but for the most part, most of them do allow for family photographs to be taken following specific guidelines and regulations during visitation.
Alabama, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia, as well as Federal facilities, allow photographs during visitation but have facility specific policies. In Delaware and Missouri only guards are allowed to take photographs, the rest have different policies and procedures where corrections officers or inmate workers take the photographs. For some they are for purchase through canteen prior to visit, for others, the families have the option of buying tickets or tokens before going into visit or during visit. Most have limitations on the number of pictures allowed and inmates may or may not be permitted to take photographs with other inmates. They are handled in a variety of ways, but they all work and they cause no issues. Pictures range from $2 to $5.00 per photo.
Arizona- Inmates are authorized to have photographs taken of themselves and/or their family members on identified holidays during specified time periods. These photographs are provided for New Year’s Day, Mother’s Day, Independence Day, and Veteran’s Day. The inmate has to request for a withdrawal from his/her canteen two weeks prior to visit. Photographs cost $2.00 each and there is a limit of four photographs per inmate. A staff member chosen by the unit Deputy Warden prints the pictures and reviews the photographs then distributes them to the inmates to mail to their families.
Arkansas- According to the Friends and Family Guide, cameras, video recorders and tape recorders must be left in your vehicle. However, some units have places inside visitation where photographs are taken and made available for purchase. Fees and specific details are governed by the facilities. These photographs are generally taken by an inmate at a cost of $3.00 each.
California- Visiting rooms have digital cameras available for photographs of prisoners and/or their visitors to be taken. There is a cost for the photographs, usually $2.00 each. At some prisons the visitor purchases a “ticket” for the photographs either from staff in the processing center or from a vending machine in the processing center or visiting room. At other prisons, the prisoner is required to purchase the photograph ticket from his/her canteen. Either staff or an inmate who works in the visitation room takes and prints the photograph and it is given to the prisoner during the course of the visit. Either the prisoner may keep the photograph(s) for themselves, or the visitor may take the photograph(s) home.
Florida- Photo tickets cost $2.00. The rules vary from facility to facility. In some, the inmates and visitors can only stand side by side, while others allow you to hug or hold hands, as long as hands can be seen. An inmate worker takes the photographs and an officer has to approve each photo. The photographs are standard digital prints. Inmates purchase the tickets from commissary. The inmates may also purchase tickets to have their photograph taken inside the facility to send to family and friends.
Indiana- Offenders are allowed to purchase photo tickets through commissary. Visitors can purchase photo tickets through the vending machines located in the visit room. A maximum of five (5) photographs may be taken per visit. Prior to entering the Visiting Room, all offenders are to advise the sallyport officer that they have a photo ticket/token in their possession. This information is to be noted on the visiting pass by the sallyport officer. An offender’s possession of a photo ticket/token card(s) does not mandate he must have a picture taken in the visiting room, however, the offender must make a decision on this matter as soon as he enters the visiting room. Immediately upon the offender’s arrival, he is to advice the visiting room officer of the total number of photographs to be taken and surrender his ticket/token(s) to the officer at that time. If the offender has determined no photos will be taken, he must also surrender the photo ticket/token(s) until the conclusion of visit. The visiting room officer is responsible for completing the Camera Log form daily. All retake pictures are to be attached to the form and forwarded to the Business Office along with all photo ticket/token(s) at the end of the day. All photographs should be taken as early in the visit as possible. The Visiting Room Officer shall take all photos. The officer will print and review the photo(s). They also allow offenders who have not had a visit to request to have a picture made for their families and for offenders receiving only non-contact visits to have a picture taken with their visitor at the end of the visit.
Iowa- When pictures are taken in the visiting room of offenders and family or friends, it is done by an offender whose job is to take these pictures. There are limitations for each institution for the offender in the picture. Prices to purchase these photos range from $1.25 to $1.59 per photograph and can be bought from the canteen by the offender or visitor.
Kansas- Allows photographs, but only level 3 inmates (have had no disciplinary issues for 240 days) may participate in the picture program. Pictures are paid for with the picture coupon purchased off canteen. The photographs are taken against a neutral background. All pictures are taken using a facility owned camera and shall be at the expense of the inmate and visitor, including the cost of mailing the pictures out. All pictures taken shall be against a neutral background that does not identify the location where the picture was taken. Only one inmate shall be in each picture. The Inmate may pose for a picture with one or more persons on the inmates approved visiting list. Where possible all hands of all persons in the picture will be visible. There is no exception to this in the picture project. All pictures shall be subject to Facility Inspection and may be disapproved if there is any question regarding the appropriateness of the picture. If the picture is disapproved for any reason the picture will not be forwarded to the Inmate. You also forfeit the funds paid for the picture and possibly disciplinary action. Inmates will be properly dressed in accordance with General Order 15-112. The inmate or any person in the picture shall not display any hand signs, tattoos or other items in the pictures. All approved photographs will be mailed to the inmate. All parties must understand agree the picture is for private use only and will not publicly display it for any reason. If a visitor utilizes the picture for any other reasons the visitors visitation privileges are subject to be revoked. If there is some evidence that an inmate conspired to have the picture publicly displayed, the inmate shall be subject to a disciplinary report for a violation of KAR 44-12-1002. Violation of Published Orders, which shall be a Class I offense.
Maine- The state prison has permitted prisoners to have photographs taken with family members or friends during prisoner visitation for many years. A prisoner is permitted to purchase these photos but must submit a money transfer in advance for the cost of the photo(s) and if approved, money is taken from his trust account and the photos are taken. A prisoner is assigned to take the actual photos. Rules and restrictions are: All personal photos will be taken in front of the backdrop provided in the Visit Room. All adults and children must be in a standing position for all photographs. Infants may be held in an appropriate position by an adult. All adults, children and infants must wear appropriate attire as determined by security personnel and is in compliance with Visitation Rules. No inappropriate hand, arm, body or facial gestures will be permitted. Holding hands is permitted. No other physical contact will be permitted. All personal photos will be inspected and approved by the Visit Officer or Visit Supervisor. Any photograph determined inappropriate or non-allowable will be confiscated and delivered to the Warden’s Office with a report outlining the facts and circumstances for confiscating the photograph(s).
Massachusetts- Inmates will be allowed to have Digital pictures taken with their visits bi-annually, on Independence Day and Christmas Day. If the holiday falls on a weekend day, that Saturday and Sunday shall be the designated photograph days. If the holiday falls on a weekday, the Saturday and Sunday preceding the holiday shall be the designated photograph days. There will be no exceptions to this schedule unless deemed necessary for security reasons. There will be two inmate photographers; a North side inmate for the North housing visits, and a South side inmate for the South housing visits. The camera will be set up in the back area of the visiting room, to ensure constant supervision of the inmate worker's handling of the camera. Digital pictures taken in the visiting room will be developed at a later date. The pictures will be reviewed and sign by staff prior to being distributed to the inmate. At the time of the photo the inmates name and commitment number will be placed on a sheet with the corresponding picture number to ensure integrity of the picture (attachment A). Inmates who are requesting to have pictures taken in the visiting room with their visits on scheduled holidays will be required to submit a charge slip to their Unit Team for approval. Once all appropriate paper work is turned in, the unit team member shall forward it to the treasurer's office for processing. All paperwork must be turned in to the Treasurer's office by the Wednesday preceding the scheduled holiday. Three (3) pictures per inmate will be allowed per visiting period. The cost of the pictures will be 3 for $1.00. The funds MUST come from the inmate's personal account. Charge slips for inmate photograph requests, shall be processed by the clerk who handles inmate accounts on the Thursday proceeding the scheduled holiday. An inmate intra-fund transaction list shall be generated and enclosed in the locked camera box, along with the appropriate amount of film needed for the holiday period. The visiting room staff shall procure the locked camera box from the Treasurer's office on the Friday afternoon, which proceeds the scheduled holiday. It shall be picked up prior to the commencement of the visiting schedule for that day. The camera, any unused film and the inmate sign off sheet shall be locked in the camera box and secured in Inner Control between visiting periods. On the Monday morning following the scheduled holiday, the locked box shall be retrieved from Inner Control by Treatment staff and returned to the Treasurer's office for inventory purposes. No hand signs will be allowed during photographing. Only one inmate per photograph. Proper dress required, i.e.: Shirts must be worn. No inappropriate actions during photo taking, to include oiling body for photograph. Photographs will ONLY be taken for the inmates listed on the Intra-fund list enclosed with the camera. NO EXCEPTIONS. Inmates may ONLY refuse to accept photographs due to operator error.
Michigan- Most prisons have a process where the prisoner’s visitor or the prisoner can purchase a photo ticket to be used in the visiting room. A prisoner is hired as a photographer will have a digital camera and printer that they can use for this purpose, in the visiting room under the supervision of the visiting room officer. When a photo is taken, the hired prisoner will get approval from the visiting room officer to print the picture (they are looking for inappropriate touching, gang signs, etc.). The hired prisoner will then print the picture and give to the inmate and his/her visiting party. This is a general interpretation of the process and may vary facility to facility.
Minnesota- An offender photographer may be available to take pictures in the visiting room. Everyone is responsible for knowing and abiding by the rules governing photos. These rules are available for review in the visiting room. Failure to abide by these rules may result in the forfeiture of the pictures and/or a disciplinary report. During non-contact visiting status, no photos will be taken.
Montana- Photographs are allowed to be taken during our visiting hours. They are taken by our visiting room photographer who is an inmate that is hired and paid to do that job. This inmate does have additional duties while in the visiting room but institutional photographer is his official title. Pictures can be purchased two different ways, the visitor can pay by cash to the visiting room staff or the inmate that has the visit can do it in the form of a money transfer out of his account. We charge $2.00 and for that they receive two different shots and two prints of each shot so, four pictures total.
Nebraska- The photo program’s purpose is for ongoing opportunities for inmates to maintain ties with family and friends in the community are important to the rehabilitation process, NSP acknowledges and recognizes the Inmate Photo Project within that context and by this means grants authority for that project to be managed according to the procedures set forth. The Inmate Photo Program is jointly supervised by the Associate Warden - Operational Services and the Deputy Warden. Actual day-to-day administration of the program is provided by the Business Manager and Canteen Supervisor along with the custody staff assigned to Turnkey and the Visiting Room. Specific responsibilities delegated to the Canteen Supervisor include auditing film use and maintaining camera(s) and sufficient inventory of film packs, as well as coordinating ticket sales. Photo tickets will be sold in the Canteens, with the price to be uniform for all facilities. All proceeds are to be included in the Canteen income statement. The necessary control over photo supplies and tickets shall be the responsibility of Canteen staff and/or Business Office staff. The pay for the inmate photographer shall be paid from the general fund. Photo tickets shall be refunded by the Canteen when an inmate is transferring to another facility for any tickets that do not exceed the maximum allowable. Photo tickets in excess of the allowable will be refunded through Accounting by completing a Merchandise Refund and placed on the reentry confiscated account. One digital camera will be available for the photo program. The camera wilt be stored in and checked out of Central Control, using the chit system. The file storage card is to remain in the camera. The printer/paper will be stored in the no contact storage room in the Visiting Room. One inmate will be selected to serve as the Inmate Photo Program photographer. Selection recommendations will be submitted by the unit managers to the Unit Administrator. He/she will discuss candidates with the Business Manager and Associate Warden - Operational Services, who jointly will approve the final candidate. The inmate photographer will not handle or keep photo tickets in his possession. He is NOT responsible for determining if a pose is inappropriate. The photographer selected will be strip searched before being allowed to enter or leave the visiting area(s). Photographs of inmates and their families and friends can be taken only in a designated area in the Visiting Room. Absent special approval by the Associate Warden - Operational Services/Deputy Warden, photographs will be taken only during regularly scheduled visiting hours. Inmates are responsible for assuming SUITABLE poses for photos. Photos in which an inmate has his arm lightly around the shoulders or waist of a family member/friend will be allowed. However no front to front or front to back full-body contact or embrace between an inmate and another person will be allowed except in the case of a small child. If such a photo is taken, it will be deleted, and the inmate will receive a misconduct report. If a visiting room Officer becomes aware of an inmate assuming an inappropriate or suggestive pose or gang signs, he/she will write a misconduct report and confiscate any inappropriate photo(s), which will be forwarded, along with the misconduct report, to the Disciplinary Committee Coordinator. (Confiscated photos are NOT forwarded to the Business Office.) Inmates may be photographed with other NSP inmates, providing they are verified by unit staff to be immediate family members. Photographs are also allowed for those who have no received visits for a period of three months in order for the inmates to send the pictures to family members who have been unable to visit.
Nevada- Photographs may not be available in all facilities, but for those that make them available, photo coupons are purchased off canteen by the inmate and brought to the visiting room at the time of visitation. Inmates and their visitors may be in the photograph. Once the visiting room officer verifies the inmate’s photo coupon, the inmate and visitor(s) will be escorted by the officer to the visit room’s photography area. Photograph rules include: No kissing or facial contact. No full embracing and/or hands below the waist. No seated photographs. No gang signs or hand signals. Inmate and visitor may stand side by side only. Inmates are only allowed to use their own photo coupon. Photographs will only be allowed with the inmate’s personal visitor(s). As soon as the photograph is taken, the inmate and his/her visitor(s) are returned to their appropriate places to continue their visit. The photographs will be left with the visit room photographer to print. Once printed, the visit room officer will inspect and approve or disprove the photographs and if deemed approved, will give them to the inmate. Non-contact inmates will not be allowed photographs. Only one inmate is allowed to be photographed per photo. The Canteen manager is responsible for all photograph equipment and supplies. Photograph sessions may be stopped at any time if more urgent matters arise.
New Hampshire- The Department of Corrections allows inmates to be photographed with their visitor(s) in the visiting room. The inmate buys a photograph “chit” in advance from the prison canteen for $3.07. This pays for two photograph prints. The photograph is taken by an inmate worker who is permitted to wait in the visiting room for the specific purpose of taking the photographs. The photos are taken against a neutral backdrop, usually a wall, so that other inmates and visitors in the visiting room will not be in the picture. The digital photographs are printed in the Department’s recreation area and the inmate picks the two photographs up on Friday each week.
New Jersey- Some facilities have photo booths where you purchase four shots for $5.00. In other facilities inmates must pay for the photographs out of their commissary account prior to visitation. These facilities have inmates hired to take digital photographs for $2.00 each.
New York- New York facilities have the “A.C.T. Photo Program.” A.C.T. is the acronym of the authorized inmate organization that currently operates the “Click-Click” photo program. Each of the Department’s correctional facilities would have a policy for its “Click-Click” photo program. For Green Haven Correctional Facility, the following applies: All photos are purchased by inmates through the commissary. They will be given their ticket at the commissary window. They put their name and DIN number on the ticket when they return to their cell or it may be confiscated. A stamped ticket will be given to the inmate purchasing the ticket(s). The tickets are brought to the visiting room and turned in as the pictures are taken. The cost of each photo is $2.00. The inmate photographer will be pat frisked upon entry into the visit rooms and strip searched upon leaving. A.C.T. photographers must be approved by the Deputy Superintendent for Programs and the Deputy Superintendent for Security. The A.C.T. Staff Advisor will supply the photographers with a list of inmates who have purchased photos. The film and photographic equipment needed to be utilized at special events or the corridor photo sessions shall be transported in a box labeled “A.C.T. Photo Box”. This box shall be locked at all times except when it is being stocked with supplies or when the equipment is being used. Only the Visiting Room C.O., Event C.O., or the A.C.T. Advisor shall have access to the contents of the box. No photo gear will be transported except in this box or by the A.C.T. Advisor personally carrying the equipment. Inmates shall be allowed to purchase as many photos as they want. No group photos will be allowed. No more than one inmate in a picture and no more than three inmates are to be in the corridor at a time to have their picture taken. Each inmate photographer will adhere to all facility policies, procedures, and rules relating to conduct. No inmate photographer will be allowed to take any picture which may be deemed offensive, nude, or violate facility rules. If an inmate photographer violates the above mentioned rules, it may result in suspension, disciplinary action, and/or termination of assignment. The A.C.T. Photographers will be allowed to hand up canvas backdrops and operate lights under the supervision of the area officers. Two photographers will be assigned to cover the corridor photo sessions. A.C.T. supplies, including film, cameras, etc., are to be kept under padlock, accessible to the staff advisor and Administration Sergeant. An inventory will be kept by the Staff Advisor at all times. The photo cart will be secured with a combination locked. The combination will be available to the A.C.T. Staff Advisor and Administration Sergeant. Inmates are even permitted to change into free world clothing and wear hats, sunglasses, etc. (We are not trying to push that far).
North Dakota- The inmates purchase the photo in advance by buying a coupon from our commissary. An inmate is allowed to take the photos with a digital camera the card is removed by staff to print the photos, screen them and then send to the inmate that purchased it. Photographs are limited to the inmate and visitor in one designated spot in the visiting room –no staff or facility photographs are allowed.
Ohio- Photographs are available to be taken in the visiting rooms at the prisons. The institutions/prisons establish their own procedures on how they will be done and it does vary from place to place. Some institutions have an inmate organization that oversees the process; therefore, an inmate is taking the photographs. The photos are purchased/paid for ahead of time by the inmate or visitor. Other institutions have an inmate who is assigned the job.
Oklahoma- The standards of practice for photographs with offenders and their families seem to be, somewhat, standardized by other Corrections Departments. We keep our major focus to be on security. Therefore, we cannot have random photos taken at any time or anywhere for the purposes of security. They are allowed on certain days of the year for offenders to have their pictures taken with family and friends on their approved visitation list. These dates are specific and are set up by our offender council which includes staff from that facility. The offenders must pay for the photos and the photographer would be an assigned staff member set up at a designated location within the facility.
Oregon- Most prisons participate in a statewide photo program in which the inmate purchases photo tickets through commissary. There are five institutions that run their own photo program and the inmates pay for the photos with a CD28 (similar to writing a check). In all cases, the photographs are taken by inmate photographers.
Pennsylvania- In state prison visiting rooms there are photo booths, similar to those you find in a mall. The booths use tokens purchased by the visitor or inmate at visitation. In the facilities that do not have the photo booths, there is an inmate worker that takes pictures of visitors with their inmates.
Rhode Island- Facilities have regular cameras and allow families to purchase film for the camera and bring it in on Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Thanksgiving through Christmas. Staff will put the film in the camera, take the pictures and give the film back to the families to have developed.
South Carolina- When an inmate purchases a picture or a ticket for a picture, it is clearly stated that the picture is to be taken with visitors only. In cases where several inmate family members are assigned to the same institution, they may be permitted to be in the same picture. All other inmate group pictures are strictly prohibited. At the discretion of the Warden/designee, an inmate may be permitted to have his/her own individual picture taken. Photographs are $2.50 per picture minimum price.
South Dakota- The Cultural Activities Coordinator will provide a photographer and the applicable staff, and they will pre-approve the list of inmates requesting photographs. Each photograph is $1.00 which must be paid in advance to the Cultural Activities Coordinator in tokens. Two prints of each photo will be provided to the purchaser. The maximum allowed pictures are four per visit and sixteen per month.
Tennessee- Prisons allow photographs to be taken of inmates and visitors inside the visiting gallery designated by the warden. They are taken against the wall without security door, fences, etc. visible in the background. The photographs are taken by designated staff or volunteers. Only disposable and digital cameras are utilized. Cameras are purchased from the inmate trust fund interest account. The cost of the photographs is $2.00 each and there is a limit of four per visit. Photos must be purchased ten days prior to visit and are purchased through their commissary account.
Texas- Prisons allow photographs to be taken during one designated week each month during visitation. TDCJ employees are responsible for taking photographs, collecting funds, maintenance, and distributing of photographs. A charitable organizations benefit from the photographer sales. Photographs cost $3.00 each and are paid for by visitors during visitation.
Washington- Inmate workers are often utilized to take photographs at visitation. When that occurs, it is not unusual for an inmate who is a porter for the visit room to be assigned that responsibility as well. Some facilities have inmate workers that stop by visiting rooms at certain times to take photographs. Often photo tickets are purchased through vending machines that are located in the visiting room (visitors purchase). Offenders cannot be in pictures with other offenders, hand signals are not allowed, and there are other guidelines on poses, such as no overlapping legs, hands much be placed appropriately, etc. Often the facilities have backdrops that were made by inmates.
Wisconsin- Inmates may have personal photos taken while on visits and inmates not receiving visits will be eligible every 180 days for a maximum of three (3) digital photos. Photos may be taken in other areas of the institution with approval from the Warden/Designee. The cost of photos will be $2.00 each. Inmates will fill out Disbursement Requests (DOC-184) payable to RCI for photos or at some facilities, visitors will purchase tokens for photographs out of a token machine prior to entering the visitation room. If purchased off of their commissary account, inmates must have the adequate personal funds in their accounts to purchase photos. Photos will not be taken unless authorized and approved by a staff member. During visits, inmates may have photos taken with their approved visitors. Visitors who purchased tokens must notify Visiting Staff of a photo request at the beginning of their visit. Inmates may give photos to their visitors at the end of their visit. Staff will review and approve all photos before they are issued to an inmate(s). Photos deemed inappropriate by staff will not be issued to inmates and may result in discipline. Inmates are not allowed to hold or keep tokens. All photos must be taken at the time of the visit. Only the inmate's approved visitors may be in the photo. Inmates may stand, sit, or kneel for photos. Inmates may remove their ID’s during photos. The only acceptable jewelry inmates may wear during photos are a watch, wedding ring or a medical alert bracelet. Approved photos will be given to the inmate or to the visitor at the end of the visit.
Wyoming- The Department of Corrections does allow for an inmate picture taking program. All five adult prison facilities in Wyoming offer this service, although each facility handles it a little differently (for example some facilities utilize recreation staff to take pictures, other facilities use visitation officers). Wyoming facilities may also elect to develop a program whereby inmates may have pictures taken to be sent to their families. There must not be any gang signs or symbols in the photographs. They will be taken in prison uniforms only. A fee will be charged for the cost of each photograph. The photographs must not remain in the inmate’s possession and must be sent out as soon as is reasonable. Recreation staff will review and approve all photos.
One of the main reasons for allowing visitation/family photographs is for preservation of the family unit which is something desperately needed in the State of Mississippi. Why is it that we feel the need to punish but not reform and preserve? Preservation of the family unit should be an M.D.O.C. priority. With the recent changes in M.D.O.C. policy we feel that this is one very simple way to help these men and women, as well as their families to be reminded of they are part of a family and I feel very strongly about preserving the family unit. Some of these men and women do not have the option of getting out of prison (not many people are allowed second chances in this state anymore) and pictures are the only way for them to have a constant reminder that they are a part of a family that loves them and is with them in spirit every day. Some men and women have been in prison for 15-20 years without their families having a single picture of them since this practice stopped in the early 2000’s. Some of these men and women were children at the time they were incarcerated and their parents have no adult pictures of them. Taking photographs at visitations and inmate weddings is a chance for M.D.O.C. to profit off of something simple that every inmate and family member we have spoken with has agreed they would like to see. These family members would purchase the photographs.
As we have shown above, there are many ways they can be done at minimal starting costs with decent profits. Even if they were only offered at certain times like holidays and ceremonies, it would still mean more than the world to a lot more people in this state than you can imagine. There are so many different ways they can be easily done and with very little expense. These small expenses would quickly pay for themselves.
Would you not want pictures of your son or daughter or with your son or daughter if they made a mistake, no matter how big, and went away for years? What happened to compassion in Mississippi? Would you want your grandmother to have pictures if it were you in prison for life? Please do not think it could never happen to you because it could have more than once and still could. Life changes in the blink of an eye and nobody is perfect. Just because a person makes a bad decision does not mean they are a bad person and deserve for their families to not be permitted the smallest thing like a photograph.
This is a simple thing that is huge to us. Photographs are treasures that mean so much when memory is the closest thing to life you have. That is what we are asking to have, a simple, small treasure, a photograph that will probably mean more to us than you can even imagine.
We are asking you to reconsider making this option available. You may not have compassion for these inmates or their families, but this is something very simple that will change the attitudes of many people at a time when there are many people angry with the system and all those in charge. It will give us happy moments to remember, to share, and to keep with us.
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