Being kind to a prison family is helpful in numerous ways. Research has shown over the years, that the presence of families during prison visits helps the inmates’ condition, psychologically and behavioral.
Prison Visits Help Recidivism
Being connected to their prison families improves inmate performance, inside the prison and eventually when they get released. One visible improvement is the reduction in the number of female and adolescent inmates with symptoms of depression and recidivism.
The prison visits were also found to make inmates more conforming to rules and survived better in the community.
Prison Visits Help Reduce Reconvictions
Another study showed that receiving many visitors frequently by inmates reduced their chances of reconviction. In fact, those who received visits from their prison families reduced their risks of reconvictions by 3%.
Prison visitation is perhaps the only chance they have to relate with family and friends. These ties to the external environment give them a sense of belonging and association. This gives them the will and ability to preserve and develop. Ultimately, it helps them adjust back into the society when they finish their prison sentences.
Prison Visits Help Society
Although the visitations are beneficial to the inmate and their prison families, society is not exempt. With inmates becoming more socially responsible, correctional facilities are a lot safer for officers. Now, laws can be easily enforced.
Outside the prison walls, citizens can live peacefully knowing the prisoner has the support of his family and friends. Since recurrent visitation reduces recidivism, then it should be encouraged, and every member of the community is called to aid that process.
How Can You Help a Prison Family?
Many families have to travel several miles just to see their loved ones. Oftentimes, they may not arrive in time for prison visitation. In those cases, they won’t be allowed to see the inmates.
Others travel very far in hopes of being able to visit more than one day. This requires finding room and board for the night, rather than driving hundreds, possibly thousands, of miles home, just to return the next day.
Open Your Home to a Prison Family
A good way to help is by opening our homes to these prison families while the visitations last. It is important that we put an end to the chastisement and ridicule faced by relatives of inmates. They do not deserve to be punished for the sins of their loved ones. They should be free to support their prisoners’ as prison loved ones.
Swan and Soffiyah Elijah, who lives in Manhattan, founded Friends in the Adirondacks. Through this program, volunteers open their homes to the families of prisoners who must travel to see them.
Soffiyah Elijah is also the executive director of Alliance of Families for Justice. This organization is dedicated to bringing systematic change. They do this by helping prison families and those with criminal records leverage their advocacy skills and voting power through mobilization, support and empowerment.
“‘The point,’ said Swan, “isn’t just to offer hospitality to the families. It’s also to open hearts and minds here in the Adirondacks, helping them move beyond the stereotypes that render inmates and their families invisible.'”
Would you be willing to open up your home to a prison family trying to visit their incarcerated loved one?
What measures can be taken to make processes like this safe for everyone involved?
Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below.