Are Conjugal Visits Allowed at Any of Michigan’s 30+ Prison Facilities?
In movies, TV, and popular culture, the topic of conjugal visits comes up often. But in reality, intimacy between prisoners and visitors is a very rare occurrence.
The subject of conjugal visits has been touched on in movies like 'Nothing But the Truth,' 'Under Lock and Key,' 'The Inmate,' and scores of others. Many TV shows, including 'Bad Girls,' 'Arrested Development,' and Prison Break' have touched on the subject. Even 'Seinfeld' tiptoed into the topic in a 1997 episode when George briefly dated a female convict.
And by doing a quick internet search, I found dozens of songs that include references to conjugal visits in the title or lyrics. Nothing on my playlist, though.
Are Conjugal Visits Legal?
The short answer is yes. The practice is much less common than we've been led to believe, though, as only a handful of states put their stamp of approval on it, and the list of restrictions is comprehensive.
Historically, the number of states in which conjugal visits were allowed is believed to have peaked in the early '90s.
In 1993, 17 of the 50 US states had a program that allowed some sort of "extended family" or spousal visit. Some programs only allowed prisoners to have limited contact with family members such as siblings or children in order to promote family bonding opportunities.
But by the 2000s, that number had dwindled to just six states. Today, only four states make provisions for conjugal visits. California, Connecticut, Washington, and New York are currently the only states with any sort of conjugal visit program.
For the most part, the term "conjugal" is no longer used, as many programs have shifted to "family" visits. New York State's program is referred to as a "family reunion." California has contact visits while Connecticut and Washington have extended family visits, according to NOLO.
Conjugal Visits in Michigan
Michigan is home to two federal prisons and about 30 state correctional facilities.
But conjugal visits are prohibited in Michigan. No such contact is allowed in any state, county, city, or federal correctional facility in our state.
Very little historical information is available on the subject, but Russ Marlin of the Michigan Department of Corrections told Mlive that he doesn't believe any such program has ever existed in Michigan.
A bill introduced in 2006 would have allowed conjugal visits in Michigan, but that bill never made it past the committee stage.