October 24, 2018

                         Advocating for the just and humane treatment of those who are incarcerated.


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MARRIAGE INSIDE PRISON WALLS

Is it possible to marry an offender incarcerated in the state of Florida? Ever wonder about what that process entails for lovebirds desiring to marry inside the walls?  When an inmate decides to get married, he/she must submit a request to their Chaplain who explains what must be provided in order for a decision to be made.  This includes a letter from both parties indicating their desire to marry; parental permission for any party under 18 years of age; court papers indicating the termination of any previous marriage; or a copy of the death certificate if either party has been widowed. This information is reviewed thoroughly before the request is approved or denied.  Once approved, the plans for a ceremony can begin.  Marriage ceremonies, which are normally held in the visit park, are not elaborate and attendance is necessarily restricted.  Some institutions may open the canteen so that the newly weds can share a special meal in celebration of their memorable union while other institutions may quickly dismiss the free partner right after the “I now pronounce you man and wife.”

There are only six states (California, Texas, New York, New Mexico, Mississippi and  Connecticut) that allow conjugal visitation rights, (also referred to as extended family visitation).   While taking great pride in a “get tough on crime”  philosophy, our society fails to acknowledge  that inmates are easier to manage and more likely to have lower recidivism rates when they experience a lifestyle that closely parallels life on the outside.  It is a fact that building and maintaining healthy family relationships while incarcerated is the most important factor for post-release success.   Although it’s become politically correct to ‘lock ’em up and throw away the key’, Dr. Phil may even dare to ask, “How’s that working for ya?”

If you are married to someone inside the walls, we’d love to hear from you. You may help someone who is pondering such an important decision.

Gems:   Life is not measured by the number of  breaths we take but by those moments that take our breath away!
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