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Study Argues that Conjugal Visits Can Reduce Number of Prison Rapes

Researchers at Florida International University contend that states where sexual intercourse between prisoners and their visiting spouses is allowed have fewer rapes and sexual assaults than states where conjugal visits are prohibited, El controversial finding that disputes the theory that sexual offenses are solely crimes of power rather than a means asexual release.

"Our findings propel the idea that sexual violence can be attenuated given appropriate policy initiatives." according to the January 2012 report. "The Effect of Conjugal Visitation on Sexual Violence in Prison." from FlU researchers Stewart D'Alessio, Jamie Flexon and Lisa Stolzenhem,

The FIU study was conducted over a three-year period. from 2004 to 2006, in the states that allowed prisoners conjugal visits at the lime: California, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York and Washington. While sexual violence occurred in states that prohibit conjugal visits at a rate of 226 per 100,000 prisoners, it occurred nearly five times less frequently in the live stales that allow conjugal visits – 57 per 100.000 prisoners.

Thus "inmate-on-inmate sexual offending is much less pronounced in states that allow conjugal visitation." according to the FIU studs.

According to a report from the federal Office Justice Programs, more than 60.000 prisoners nationwide (4.5% of all state and federal prisoners) were sexually victimized in 2007. In some states' prisons, the number of victims of sexual assault that year approached or exceeded 20%. A Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) national survey published in August 2010 estimated that approximately 88.500 then-incarcerated adults had been sexually victimized while in prison or jail.

The effect of conjugal visits in reducing sexual assaults in prison should force more states to consider allowing conjugal visits, according to researchers. Conjugal visits have other positive effects. the study said, They help improve, for instance, the functioning of marriages by maintaining a prisoner's) role as husband or wife improve (he (prisoner's) behavior while incarcerated, counter the effects of prisonization, and improve post-release success by enhancing the (prisoner's) ability to maintain ties with his or her family."

"Additionally," the study said, "because conjugal visitation is reported to reduce homosexual activity and because AIDS is often spread by homosexual activity, conjugal visitation may help to attenuate the spread of AIDS in prison."

Researchers volunteered that their study had certain limitations especially that "instances of sexual offending" in prison are underreported and. therefore, there certainly could have been more cases of sexual victimization in states that allow conjugal visits than their data concluded.

Nevertheless. the findings have her policy implications, according to the study programs, researchers argue, "should he geared to view sexual offending as a sex crime instead of solely as a crime of power." Such programming, the study says, could reduce recidivism.

"The harm caused by rape and other forms of sexual violence," researchers concluded, "reverberate through our lives, homes and communities. Additional policy initiatives directed at extinguishing sexual violence, which appears to the undertaken by (prisoners) to satisfy their sexual urges need to be identified."

Source: Florida International University. Department of Criminal Justice: "The Effect of Conjugal Visitation on Sexual Violence in Prison," American Journal of Criminal Misfire, February 2012.


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