Institution of Familial/Conjugal Visitation in Nevada Prisons

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Petition to the Director of the Nevada Department of Corrections to Request Institution of Familial/Conjugal Visitation in Nevada Prisons

We petition the Director of the Nevada Department of Corrections, James Dzurenda, to compel him to put into place a program for familial/conjugal visitation. The need for this program is simple: programs like these are the most effective means of preventing crime and reducing recidivism. Inmates who participate in familial/conjugal visitation have dramatically lower recidivism rates and exit prison more well-adjusted and ready to contribute to society. There are two major benefits to these types of programs.

1. The first is that these visits provide a tremendous incentive to incarcerated men and women to stay out of trouble. Inmates learn to control negative behaviors in order to maintain their eligibility for these visits. They are more apt to participate in educational and self-improvement programs and to work if that is allowed. They have an enormous incentive to avoid the temptations of violence, gang activity, and drug use inside prison. In short, this program has the potential to remove all incentive for negative behavior inside of prison. The very same discipline and impulse control that an inmate would learn to maintain to be eligible for familial/conjugal visits would then translate to scenarios outside of prison to teach restraint from engaging in impulsive or criminal decisions. There is not a stronger incentive that could be brought to bear for change in the criminal justice system.

2. The second benefit is that familial/conjugal visitation plays a very important role in the development and growth of family relationships. What would be a more positive result for society- a person getting out of prison who has close bonds and a loving family to come to or a person released divorced, angry, and alienated from their family? It is clear that it would be much more beneficial for all of society if people were leaving the negative environment of prison with a soft place to land. Not only will these tightly forged relationships provide an opportunity for inmates to land on their feet, but they also provide a strong deterrent to future criminal activity, knowing the risk of losing their loving and supportive relationships. Someone is much more likely to listen to their spouse and loved ones than a parole officer, and that would benefit everyone.

One might argue that it costs money to institute a program like this. This is a valid concern. However, taking into account the savings that would be garnered from the reduction in recidivism, this program would more than pay for itself. Consider that it costs between $15,000-$25,000 per year to incarcerate someone (this varies by state). It is very simple math to see that a reduction of even 50 inmates per year returning to prison over a 10-year period could yield over $40-$50 million in savings. This would be a very healthy and positive investment for the Nevada Department of Corrections to institute this program and benefit from it.

A win/win situation.

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