Apr 2019

How far can states go in restricting visiting to incarcerated inmates?

minor arrested

Well, nearly 25 years ago, Michigan adopted a new policy. In 1995, the MDOC announced that any inmate found guilty of 2 substance abuse violations would lose all visitation rights, except from their lawyer or clergy. The policy also barred visits from minors unless they were the inmates’ own children, thereby eliminating visits from nephews, nieces, cousins, and even underage siblings. It was certainly controversial.

The policy was litigated all the way to the US Supreme Court, which ruled 9-0 in favor of the MDOC and its restrictions on visits. 

There has been some recent progress. Minors are again allowed to visit family members other than their parents. Inmates who violate the substance abuse policy can also apply to have visits reinstated after one year, often successfully if they haven’t received other significant disciplinary tickets. 

But as this country’s issues with substance abuse and the opioid crisis continue to escalate, we need to ask ourselves – at what point does attempts at discipline have too much of an adverse effect on people who are struggling with addiction to begin with? Satawa Law. On guard to defend your rights. 

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