Sex in Prison Visiting Rooms
Cindy Bedolla wrote to ask whether my wife and I ever violated the visiting rules of a federal prison. She also wanted to know whether we ever saw other prisoners violating the rules with their visitors. I’m grateful for this opportunity to share my experiences and to help Cindy understand more about prison life.
As I’ve described in previous articles about visiting rules, staff members are quite specific about how much affection prisoners can extend to their visitors. Carole and I have been nurturing our love through our visiting privileges since 2002. The rules authorize us to embrace and to kiss at the start and end of each visit. In all but two prisons we’ve been allowed to hold hands throughout our visit. Three of the five prisons where we’ve visited have allowed me to drape my arm around Carole during the visit.
Staff members are always present in the room when we’re visiting, but there are moments when we can feel comfortable in stealing an extra kiss. I should say that I feel more comfortable than Carole. She is really vigilant about observing the rules. We both cherish our visiting privileges, but sometimes I’m incapable of restraining myself and lean closer to kiss her, either on the cheek or on the lips. The kisses are never inappropriate as far as I’m concerned, as in the world, it is normal for a man to kiss the woman he loves.
I never allow my hands to wander inappropriately, and the extra kisses I give to Carole during our visits never amount to more than the affection I would express if we were in a public restaurant. The visiting room is the only place we can share together until my release, so I cannot behave in a way that could result in our further separation.
Other prisoners are not always so respectful of the rules. Carole and I have been visiting in three prisons where some prisoners regularly had sexual relations with their visitors. In one prison, the room was as crowded as a busy bus terminal. Four guards patrolled the room, and two surveillance cameras recorded the visits. Children were present. Despite the inappropriateness, we saw a man having sexual intercourse with his wife in a corner; we’ve seen women performing oral sex on their visitors as they hid beneath bobbing jackets.
When I transferred to minimum-security camps, we saw more sexual relations between prisoners and visitors. The guards sometimes caught prisoners in the act, and other times prisoners were caught because the family members of other prisoners reported the disrespectful behavior. No civilized person wanted sexual relations taking place where children were walking around freely, but some prisoners and their visitors lacked a sense of propriety. Last month, a former businessman who had graduated from an Ivy League school was cited for having sexual relations with his wife in the visiting room. Sanctions will keep him locked in segregation for a few months, and he will be transferred for disciplinary reasons to a higher security prison. He also will lose visiting and telephone privileges for several months.
The consequences for violating visiting rules sting. Carole and I do not place our visiting privileges in peril.