On November 30th, in the spirit of the holiday season, the Maryland Department of Corrections banned photos, hugging or a kiss at the beginning of any prison visit. Communications and contacts between inmates and their families are crucial to rehabilitation and a positive re-entry for all inmates. For spouses and children, it is their only physical contact with their loved one. Under the new regulations, only at the end of the visit, are they allowed a brief hug and a kiss.
The argument for this new visitation rule is the problem of contraband brought into the prisons by a small number of visitors. Keep in mind that all inmates after their visits are strictly searched by the guards. Unless the correctional officers are illegally helping the inmate, the inmate will not be able to bring the contraband ( i.e. drugs, cellphones, etc.) back to his unit or cell. Based on my personal experience at a Maryland state prison in Hagerstown, 2 to 3 inmates are brought into a small room with a correctional officer assigned to search each inmate. The inmate removes all of his clothes. He opens his mouth for inspection, bends over for inspection, and raises his arms over his head for inspection. If there are illegal items hidden on the inmate, the correctional officer will find the contraband and the inmate will be punished.
This new banning will stop the five year old child entering the visitation room, accompanied by a parent or guardian, from rushing and hugging his incarcerated father or mother. The child and family members will now be barred from having any photos taken at the visitation room. The inmate pays the cost of the photo. If you enter most prison cells, the inmates will have their prison family photo. At home, the family will have a photo to help maintain the connection with their husband, boyfriend, mother, girlfriend, or friend, who are behind prison walls.
The vast majority of inmates and their visitors do not violate any visitation rules including the smuggling of contraband. This new draconian measure punishes all inmates for the actions of a small number of inmates. This harsh regulation punishes the innocent family members and friends.
By: Bradley Schwartz
Founder of prisonpath.com