Conjugal visits are among the most cliched tropes featured in TV and movies about prison. However, prison conjugal visits are extremely rare in the US, allowed in just four states. Beyond that, the rules for them are extremely strict, with extended family visits (as they're now called) allowed for only a select few prisoners with clean records.
With their pop culture presence, one imagines conjugal visits taking place in cramped trailers all over the country. But this isn't true - and never really was. From their racist origins, to their ban in federal prisons, to the limitations placed on them, conjugal visits are one of the most misunderstood aspects of life behind bars. They're allowed for inmates in jail and prison all over the world, from liberal Europe to theocratic Middle Eastern countries - and the rules for them vary from border to border.Here are some interesting things to know about conjugal visits and sex in prison, though hopefully you'll never have to worry about it.
The first conjugal visits in American history were in Mississippi State Prison (aka Parchman Farm) in the early '20s. Like so much of American history, they have a racist connotation. The prison's warden, James Parchman, wanted to encourage his African-American male prisoners to work harder, so he turned the prison into a huge faux-plantation.Because he also thought black men were animalistic sex monsters, Parchman paid prostitutes to come and have sex with the inmates each Sunday. In the 1930s, Parchman Farm began letting white male prisoners engage in the program, and it was formalized as a "spousal visit time" in 1960.