The Prison Family Bill of Rights

A Coalition of prison family members and representatives of secular and faith based organizations serving prison families from across the United States in attendance at the 2012 National Prisoner’s Family Conference affirmed the following rights. The bill is intended to be a living document for prison families. If you are a member of a prison family, a currently or  formerly incarcerated person, please feel free to suggest amendments in the comment section of this blog post. 

The Prison Family has the right to be treated with respect and dignity by any and all representatives of the prison system at all times.

The Prison Family has the right to expect and be assured the utmost care is established and maintained to provide a healthy and safe living environment that promotes effective rehabilitation, reintegration and parole planning throughout a loved one’s incarceration.

The Prison Family has the right to be treated and integrated as a positive resource in the process of rehabilitation and reintegration preparation and parole planning of an incarcerated loved one.

The Prison Family has the right to receive consistency in the enforcement of rules; regulations and policies affecting a loved one’s incarceration.

The Prison Family has the right to receive consistency in the enforcement of rules; regulations and/or policies affecting visitation and/or all forms of communication with an incarcerated loved one.

The Prison Family has the right to be informed in a timely, clear, forthright and respectful manner of any changes in rules; regulations and/or policies affecting visitation and/or communication with an incarcerated loved one.

The Prison Family has the right to be informed within 24 hours and in a compassionate manner regarding the illness; injury and/or death of an incarcerated loved one.

The Prison Family has the right to extended visitation during the hospitalization of an incarcerated loved one.

The Prison Family has the right to be informed within 24 hours of the security status change and/or transfer of an incarcerated loved one to a new facility.

The Prison Family has the right to be provided specific written and evidenced-based reasons for a loved one’s security status change; clemency denial and/or parole denial.

The Prison Family has the right to have their incarcerated loved one housed within a distance from their permanent address that provides reasonable access for visitation and/or to facilitate serving as a resource in the rehabilitation and reintegration preparation and parole planning of their incarcerated loved one.

The Prison Family has the right to be provided the current specific name or names and direct phone numbers of prison officials to contact for questions about their incarcerated loved one.

The term “Prison Family” is herein defined as including, but not limited to a blood or adopted relation, spouse, domestic partner and/or trusted friend designated by an incarcerated person upon or during a period of confinement as one who will serve as an outside contact on his or her behalf for the relaying of any communication regarding the medical and mental health, security status and location of the incarcerated person and/or for making critical decisions on behalf of the incarcerated person in the event of his or her incapacitation.

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Suggested Uses for the Prison Family Bill of Rights

1. Petitions (urging states to adopt the Bill)
2. Organizational Endorsements
3. Policy Briefs & News Releases
4. Blogs & Social Media
5. Special Events & Documents (highlighting disparities in your state)
  •  Video
  •  Performance
  •  Press Conferences
  •  Speaking engagements

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