Can Prisoners Furlough for Childbirth?

By · Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

Kylee wrote me with questions pertaining to her husband’s confinement. He serves a 46-month sentence at the prison camp in Morgantown, Virginia. Kylee wanted to know whether a furlough for childbirth was possible, and she also had questions about opportunities for her husband to earn an MBA during his imprisonment.

My experiences are that a huge disconnect exists between the BOP’s stated mission of creating policies that enable prisoners to nurture family ties and the actual policies by which prisoners and their families have to live. Under current regulations, unescorted furloughs are unlikely for the purpose of childbirth. To qualify for most furloughs, a prisoner must have advanced to within two years of his release date. Another general condition that most wardens impose requires prisoners to have community custody. Camp placement means that the prisoner has out-custody status with a minimum-security rating, though confinement in camp does not necessarily mean the prisoner is granted community custody. More detailed descriptions on custody ratings are available in my article titled Custody and Classifications.

Generally, a prisoner who was beginning his term in confinement would have to serve three to six months before administrators granted community custody. Some prisoners are not granted such status until they release to a halfway house. Others receive community confinement after a period of time as a precondition for a work assignment.

Without community confinement or the general rule that a prisoner is within two years of release, the only time a prisoner may receive furloughs would be if her were to transfer from a low-security prison to a camp, or from one camp to another. Prisoners may receive furloughs to visit sick relatives or to attend funerals, but if they don’t meet other criteria, they must pay to have guards escort them.

Administrators may not be so receptive to requests for furloughs home to assist with childbirth. I would not expect them to provide additional telephone privileges or visiting access, either. The prisoner and his wife must maintain their relationship and family within the rigid structures of the system. That is not always easy, but as my writings about family ties show, Carole and I grow our love in every way possible.

With regard to Kayla’s questions about her husband’s opportunity to earn an MBA, I refer her to Opportunities for Higher Learning; the article offers readers more detail and suggestions than I can provide through a blog posting.

Advancing educational credentials represents an excellent strategy for serving time, yet graduate school from prison requires extreme discipline. The prisoner must overcome many obstacles, and he will not always find administrators helpful. I earned my masters degree from Hofstra, but administrators erected obstacles that precluded me from finishing a Ph.D. at U. Conn.

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