Let me say from jump that I NEVER want to go to jail. I saw Scared Straight as a kid and watched all six seasons of OZ and that’s about enough to keep a Black man from even jay-walking.
However, I know I’m not the only law abiding brother out there that watched the video for Alicia Keyes’ Fallin’ and thought about knocking over a liquor store if it meant Alicia’s super fine braid rocking pre-Swizz Beatz self would take a two hour bus ride to see me twice a month.
Obviously fans of Keyes, the Minnesota Department of Corrections has just released a study affirming that having a beautiful R&B singer visit you in prison might be enough to keep you on the straight and narrow once you finally get out of jail. Maybe not Alicia Keyes specifically, but the Minnesota DOC has just released a study showing that prison inmates who have more visitors while they are on lockdown, especially from significant others, are less likely to get thrown back into the system once they get out.
Minn-DOC looked at a sample of 16,400 prisoners released from 2003 to 2007 and found that those who received regular visitors in prison were 13% less likely to end up in jail again and 25% less likely to commit parole violations. Considering the expenses that are associated with imprisoning men over and over again it seems like good public policy to increase visiting rights to prisoners and even expand concepts like conjugal visits which have been shown to reduce recidivism as well in recent studies.
Now most of this seems like common sense right? If you know through visitations that your family is waiting for you on the outside you’re going to behave a lot better than the guy who’s family has cut him off because they got sick of him being a knucklehead. But the study shows that WHO comes to visit is as important as how many visits you get. Visits by siblings and fathers were incredibly helpful , mentor and clergy visits reduced recidivisim by up to 25%. On the flip side, visits by ex-spouses – and I suspect mothers of inmate’s children (sans kids) – actually increased the likelihood of someone committing a crime when they get out of jail.
In other words, the proscription for American prison public policy boils down to 50 Cent’s 21 Questions video. You want men to behave responsibly when they get out of jail? Give ‘em a conjugal visit with Meagan Goode. Want to make sure they’re repeat offenders? Let them spend two hours with Shaniqua Thompson.
I think I know what policy I support. Meagan Goode and Alicia Keyes? Where was that liquor store again?
This article originally appeared online at Politic365.com.