What Visitation Rights Do Inmates Have?


Quick Answer

Prisoners have a right to visit with legal counsel, clergy and religious advisers, but prisons retain the ability to impose restrictions on how these rights are met, explains the American Civil Liberties Union. Each prison establishes its own rules and regulations, and laws frequently change according to cases brought to the court, so consulting with a specific prison and a prison law library is imperative.

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Full Answer

Aside from legal and religious visits, visiting is a privilege, not a right, according to Nolo. Because of this, prisons can retract the ability of prisoners and visitors to meet if either person breaks prison rules or disobeys an officer's directives during a visit. Certain infractions can lead to a prisoner losing visitation privileges, while prisons can also cancel visits given safety, health and security risks, notably the outbreak of infectious diseases.

Although the Supreme Court has not ruled that prisoners have no rights of association, the courts have upheld significant restrictions on prisoner visitation, notes the ACLU. In particular, the courts have approved an indefinite moratorium on all nonlegal visits to prisoners convicted of substance abuse infractions, as well as extreme limitations on visits by children and former prisoners.

Courts have deemed that it is not necessary for prisons to allow prisoners conjugal visits, as the refusal to allow such visits does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment, nor does it break privacy rules, explains Nolo.

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