Yesterday Reentry Central posted an article on the how correctional departments, inmates, formerly incarcerated persons and their families, and community service providers are recognizing the importance role family connections play in successful reentry. Today, one state is has implemented a policy that might discourage some people from visiting a loved one.
Alabama, according to the Montgomery Advertiser, requires visitors to a correctional facility to undergo a fingerprint scan. This measure seems a bit extreme, when no other state requires it, and not even the Federal Bureau of Prisons forces visitors to do it.
Prisoners who have visitors from the family, friends, or community support organizations often do better upon release. Successful reentry increases public safety. Along with Alabama, Arizona created a policy that might thwart visits. Reentry Centralreported on September 7, 2011 that Arizona charges each visitor a one-time fee of $25 to do a criminal background check on any adult wishing to visit an inmate. In times of economic hardship, this policy was called “penny wise and pound foolish” by the ACLU’s David Fahti, director of the ACLU’s National Prison Project. The ACLU also questions Alabama's new prison visitation policy.
Many people feel that being fingerprinted to see a loved one is unnecessarily invasive. A criminal background check policy on correctional facility visitors is already in place in every state. Having a criminal history does not necessarily exclude someone from being able to visit an inmate, so the question arises as to why Alabama feels a fingerprint scan is necessary.