"Almost by definition, incarceration separates individuals from their families, but for decades this country has also placed unnecessary burdens on the family members left behind. Certainly in practice and perhaps by design, prisons are lonely places. Analyzing little-used government data, we find that visits are the exception rather than the rule. Less than a third of people in state prisons receive a visit from a loved one in a typical month … Despite the breadth of research showing that visits and maintaining family ties are among the best ways to reduce recidivism, the reality of having a loved one behind bars is that visits are unnecessarily grueling and frustrating" (p. 1). This report is an excellent introduction to the challenges families face visiting their loved ones in prison and ways state policymakers can reduce these hardships. Five recommendations cover: prison time as a last resort; adoption of visitation policies that promote family visitation; reduction of prison and jail telephone costs; suggestions from inmates and their families on how to make visitation easier; and alternatives to prison expansion.
This is an excellent report that addresses the critical issues surrounding the building of prisons in and the transfer of inmates to areas that are demographically different than the surrounding community. It provides food for thought regarding the ability of families to visit their loved one in prison, the hiring of minority correctional staff, and the degree to which prison gerrymandering occurs in the United States. "This report fills a critical gap in understanding the mass incarceration phenomenon: it offers a way to quantify the degree to which in each state mass incarceration is about sending Blacks and Latinos to communities with very different racial/ethnic make-ups than their own. We use data from the 2010 Census to compare the race and ethnicity of incarcerated people to that of the people in the surrounding county, finding that, for many counties, the racial and ethnic make-up of these populations is very different. This analysis addresses the degree to which each state’s use of the prison is about transferring people of color to communities that are very different from the communities that people in prison come from. This data does not address the bias in policing or sentencing found in individual counties; instead it reflects each state’s political decision to build prisons in particular locations." Sections of this report include: key findings; introduction; the racial geography of mass incarceration for Blacks; the racial geography of mass incarceration for Latinos; conclusion; Appendix A-- Counties: Total, incarcerated and non-incarcerated populations by race/ethnicity and ratios of overrepresentation; Appendix B--Percentiles of County Ratios by State for Blacks; Appendix C-- Percentiles of County Ratios by State for Latinos; and Appendix D--Portion of each state's incarcerated population that is incarcerated in disproportionately White counties.