Prison Family Bill of Rights Addresses Concerns of People in Prison and Those Who Care About Them
Date:  03-25-2015

Bill urges compassion and transparency from corrections
In 2012 attendees of the National Prisoner’s Family Conference (NPFC) drafted the Prison Family Bill of Rights to assure that family members, friends or contact persons of incarcerated people were treated respectfully and that there would be more transparency regarding the rules, regulations and policies of corrections facilities. The Bill was adopted at the NPFC of 2013.

At first glance it seems that the Bill contains rights that should already be in place such being treated with respect and dignity, or having a loved one incarcerated in a prison close to home, but families of people in prison know that is not always the case. Family members often complain that corrections staff members from correctional officers, to counselors, to wardens treat them rudely, and that their loved one is incarcerated at a distance that makes visits to expensive and therefore rare. The right to be notified of any changes to rules, regulations or policies seems to be a no-brainer, but in reality family members often find out about the changes long after they have been implemented and when the changes cause direct adverse effects to family members and those who are incarcerated.

But the Prison Family Bill of Rights delves deeper into issues that affect family and their loved ones in prison. The Bill calls for more transparency regarding changes in a loved one’s security level, or transfer to another prison. Family members also called for the right to know why a loved one was denied parole or clemency.

The next National Prisoner’s Family Conference will be held May 6 -8, 2015 in Dallas, Texas.

The Prison Family Bill of Rights can be found below:

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 drafted the Prison Family Bill of Rights and the Bill was affirmed and adopted by attendees at the 2013 conference, as follows:

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 evidence-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.

For a printable pdf copy of the Prison Family Bill of Rights, e-mail: info@prisonersfamilyconference.org