How to get privacy in prison

Long-term visit to the prison: who is allowed to do so?

Even those who have never visited someone in prison should have an idea of ​​how a visit to a correctional facility (JVA) works from television series or movies: You are searched and are then allowed to meet the inmate in the visitor room, where many inmates and their visitors come together sit opposite - under the watchful eyes of an officer. For couples or families who want some privacy, this is hardly a permanent solution.

Long-term visit: privacy included

In such cases, penal law provides for the possibility of a long-term visit to the prison. The prisoner, his partner and, if necessary, the children or, in some cases, close family members, can spend a few hours together in a special cell. Such rooms are usually more welcoming than normal cells, they are more reminiscent of a living room.

Overnight stays can also be allowed. The special thing about it: The visit is not monitored. The detainee must apply for such a long-term visit. Whether and under what conditions an inmate is allowed to receive long-term visits depends on many different factors - these differ greatly from state to state.

"Basically, one can say: The different regulations in the federal states only have in common that they are intended to make rehabilitation easier for prisoners and that human rights are in the foreground," says Michaela Landgraf, lawyer for criminal law and board member of the Munich Lawyers' Association and member of the criminal law working group of the German Bar Association (DAV). The fundamental right is measured most clearly in the penal system.

Only contacts that are worthy of funding

Whether a long-term visit is allowed always depends on the individual case. An important prerequisite is very good management of the detainee. It is also crucial for which crime the prisoner was convicted and how experts assess him. And who can come to visit?

"In Bavaria, one of the countries with the strictest rules in the penal system, long-term visits are usually only allowed for spouses or for people who live in a longer, stable relationship," says the criminal law expert. There is a reason that this type of visit is also called marriage visit. For example, detainees are not allowed to get a long-term visit from a friend they have only recently known.

It's similar in North Rhine-Westphalia. Long-term visits to the JVA are allowed to married couples or partners in marriage-like relationships. However, close family members such as parents or siblings are also permitted to visit unsupervised there.

Potential visitors are carefully examined in advance. If an inmate requests a visit from someone with whom he has a close relationship, the prison social worker will examine the prospective visitor in a face-to-face interview.

Whether the visit is ultimately approved also depends on the offense for which the detainee was convicted. If he is in custody for domestic violence and requests a visit from his wife, it can be difficult.

Even if long-term visits have already taken place, during which incidents occurred, a further visit is rather unlikely. This can be the case if, for example, the visitor tried to hand over drugs to the detainee.

Intimate visits only for longer periods of detention

Whether a long-term visit is allowed or not also depends on the length of the detention. In the most populous German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, long-term visits from a detention period of three months are possible - even for prisoners on remand.

In Bavaria, on the other hand, long-term visits are for the most part only planned in prisons where people are imprisoned for life or for several years. Naturally, a marriage can only be maintained if you see each other regularly.

Such visits are also important when the prison term is coming to an end. So that convicts can later reintegrate more easily into professional and private life, they are sometimes even allowed to get leave from imprisonment. "Prisoners who run a company, for example, can then return to their place of work for a limited period of time, ie become so-called outdoor prisoners," explains lawyer Landgraf. Short-term leave to complete job interviews is also possible. Meetings with the partner or family could also take place in this context.

The prison is also crucial

In order to organize a long-term visit, the prison naturally needs the appropriate premises. Whether these are available in all prisons is also a matter of the state. Not every prison has the financial, spatial and personnel capacities to organize long-term visits.

Prisoners in North Rhine-Westphalia can consider themselves lucky. Suitable rooms for long-term visits are available in almost every prison. Otherwise, they will be transferred to another detention center for the appropriate time.

Security in the foreground

High security precautions also apply during the visit. Long-term visitors, like any other visitor, are not allowed to take anything with them into the prison. To ensure this, they are thoroughly searched. Children are not spared from the controls either - they even have their diapers and toys checked. There is also an emergency button in the rooms equipped for long-term visits.

Conclusion: The possibility of a long-term visit is an important means of supporting the detainees in maintaining relationships that will later facilitate their reintegration into everyday life. The security precautions are very high so that nothing happens to the prisoners and visitors. Whether a long-term visit to the prison is approved or not is decided after a thorough examination of the individual case.