Two recent studies, in Minnesota and Florida, have shown that family visitation reduces recidivism. Nevertheless, in the “tough on crime” era of the 1990s, the family visitation programs begun in the 1960s and 70s started being eliminated, ostensibly due to overcrowding.
Aside from family visitation’s positive effect on recidivism rates, according to the National Resource Center on Children and Families of the Incarcerated at Rutgers University, family visits—extended visits in particular—are helpful developmentally for kids. To learn more about the importance of visitation for children and read some sad and some heartening stories about real children affected by incarceration, we recommend this article in The Nation online magazine.
New York Times Editorial: Governor of NY Steps Back from State Policy of Treating Juvenile Offenders as Adults
In most states, the age at which offenders are prosecuted as adults is 18, the widely-assumed transition from adolescence to adulthood. However, the states of New York and South Carolina set that age at 16. The policies of these states defy research showing that young people are developmentally incapable of weighing risks the way adults do, which makes them prone to rash judgments that get them into trouble. Prosecution as an adult not only places young offenders under the harmful influence of adult offenders for the term of their incarceration, but it also condemns them to a life-long stigma as a convicted felon.
To begin to counteract this problem, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has launched a new program to pardon people who were convicted of a nonviolent offense when they were 16 or 17. His goal is to give these individuals the opportunity to have more normal lives after incarceration. (Read the entire New York Times Editorial, December 2015)