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New!! In the NIC Library – Video Visiting in Corrections: Benefits, Limitations, and Implementation Considerations
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Video Visiting

Approximately 200,000 women are in U.S. prisons and jails with a significant percentage being the sole parent or caregivers of minor, adolescent and teen-aged children. For children, having a parent in prison can affect their mental health, social behavior, and educational prospects (La Vigne, Davies, & Brazzell, 2008). The challenge for these children who lose contact with their mothers and who can also be separated from siblings and placed in unsatisfactory living circumstances, whether with family, friends, or in foster care, is very real. For incarcerated women, this knowledge contributes to parental stress, one of a number of areas found in the research as a contributor to negative outcomes for women both in correctional and community-based settings. (Achieving Accurate Pictures of Risk and Identifying Gender Responsive Needs: Two New Assessments for Women Offenders, Van Voorhis, Salisbury, Wright, Bauman, 2008). Additional related research states “women’s economic marginalization and substance abuse often leads to stress and overwhelmed feelings about being able to take care of and provide for their children (Greene, Haney, & Hurtado, 2000). Maternal demands may contribute to recidivism especially when they are accompanied by (1) poverty, (2) substance abuse problems, and (3) minimal support. Some studies with mothering offenders have detected a relationship between parental stress and crime (Ferraro & Moe, 2003; Ross, Khashu, & Wamsley, 2004).

Video Visiting in Corrections is a newly released document that sets forth the research underscoring the importance of building and maintaining healthy connections between family, children and social supports while discussing the barriers and opportunities to establishing and maintaining robust visitation programs. Contained in the document are discussions regarding the importance and challenges of in-person visitation, video visiting, examples of various models of video visiting, first-hand accounts from both correctional agencies and users of video visiting, checklists for exploring the feasibility of various video visiting systems and guidance for the implementation of system assessments.027701

A different but related document was published by the National Institute of Corrections in December 2013, Pregnancy and Child Related Legal and Policy Issues Concerning Justice-Involved Women (Myrna Raeder, J.D., Professor, Southwestern Law School, NIC Accession No. 027701) which addressed how lack of contact with children and family influenced women’s risk and needs and discussed the policy and legal implications related to women not receiving visits. Visitation can positively affect behavior and further enhance a woman’s motivation in program participation/successful completion, development of reentry plans, increase hope and expectancy, as well as address legislative and policy issues that can head off such long lasting consequences such as termination of parental rights (Adoption and Safe Family Acts, 1997) and address issues for women placed far from home. These areas are particularly hard hitting for women given the numbers who lived with their children prior to incarceration or have been the sole parent or caregiver but are transferred and serving time far from their homes, children and sources of support.

These two important documents are rich in research, practical application and guidance in the reasons for enhancing visitation between justice-involved women, their children, family and systems of support.

Access the full document


This announcement is available at NIC's Gender-Responsive News for Women and Girls.  Feel free to forward to friends and colleagues.  Subscribe to the newsletter at

For additional resources on Justice-Involved Women go to NIC’s Women Offenders.

Posted Tue, Jan 20 2015 7:36 AM by Susan Powell


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