TDNCLA: Who Can Conjugal(ly) Visit Me in Prison?

July 24, 2013


I just got locked up in a maximum security prison.  Is this going to cut into my sex life? 


Dear LUC,

You may be in luck.  You may have lost your liberty, but there’s a special place in our prison system for some good, ol’ fashion love-making.  You may have heard of them: “conjugal visits.”  Thing is, you better wife up one of your ladies (or gents), because in most places, conjugal visits are limited to your husband or wife.  Really good friends you only call at 1 a.m. when you’re feeling lonely do not make the cut.  Even the word “conjugal” means “of or relating to marriage,” and that’s no accident–the purpose of conjugal visits was to keep the family unit intact.  (Well, that and using the promise of sex to bribe inmates for good behavior, not unlike what many married couples do.)  But while most conjugal visits are limited to spouses, if your prison sentence is sufficiently long, there’s no reason you can’t have more than one visitor over the course of your prison stay.  Just get a good divorce attorney now.

Hopefully, the crime you committed was a local matter–if you’ve ended up in the federal penitentiary, you are going to find yourself with many lonely nights because the Federal Bureau of Prisons does not permit conjugal visits.  You should have taken it up with your senator while you could still vote (posts on felon disenfranchisement, to follow).  But states aren’t all that great on the matter either–only six states continue to help a brother/sister out: California, Connecticut, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York and Washington.  And in some of these states, your kids can come too (buzz kill!!, but beggers can’t be choosers).

It would seem that America is a little Puritan as compared to the rest of this world on this topic.  Some countries, like Russia, even let you leave incarceration to go see your loved one:  an eighteen-day holiday for really really good prisoners.  In Canada, the prison even serves snacks during the (72-hour) visits, but it’ll be on your dime and you’ll have to clean up after.  In Spain, the prison provides condoms, shower facilities and clean towels (if only Holiday Inns were so generous).  Even Saudi Arabia permits conjugal visits: married Saudi prisoners are allowed one conjugal visit per month for monogamous and two visits for a bigamous male (though query if they can visit at the same time).  Some countries do not grant conjugal visits to female inmates, which I think almost entirely explains the lower incidence of crime among women.

As for your male suitors, it’s a state by state determination.  New York and California do allow same-sex couples to have conjugal visits, but most states (including for obvious reasons, states that don’t allow same sex marriages) do not.  Mississippi explicitly defines marriage for conjugal visiting purposes to be between a man and a woman.

But best be careful because one spoiled apple can ruin the whole bunch.  In some prisons that allow conjugal visits, the inmate must show that he or she is clear of any sexually transmitted diseases.  Now, if your spouse suddenly starts introducing STDs into your love life–STDs they didn’t have prior to you getting locked up–you admittedly have bigger problems than your monthly happy-time.  But let’s not end up in a situation where your cheating spouse gives you the herp and makes it so you can never have another visitor other than her again.  Even the Count of Monte Christo would balk at that revenge plan.


Luci Lawless