• DC Inmates Will Now Be Allowed To Actually Be With Their Relatives

    D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Wednesday that inmates in the D.C. jail will now be allowed to visit with their family members, but only if they are good.

    Bowser said in a statement that the new program will be incentive-based, and only offered to “inmates who meet specific behavioral criteria and are without disciplinary infractions.”

    In-person visits will be limited to those inmates who haven’t had any disciplinary infractions for at least 30 days.

    In 2012, the district did away with in-person visits from relatives, in favor of a high-tech solution that put the visitors in a building near the prison and allowed them to video conference with their incarcerated relatives.

    At the time, prison officials praised the new system for its efficiency and said it would improve safety for both the visitors and the inmates. Prison rights activists, though, criticized the idea, saying it would take away the last access to the outside world these prisoners had.

    Bowser’s move to provide the face-to-face visitation comes after a recent report from the Washington Lawyers’ Committee found that the video visitation can interfere with maintaining family bonds and can make it harder for the prisoners to reintegrate into society upon release.

    According to the report, the jail’s video visitation monitors are located in a common space, so prisoners have no privacy when speaking with their family members, which can make it difficult for them to communicate effectively.

    The report recommended that access to in-person visitation for prisoners be reinstated.

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