Separation by Bars and Miles: New report finds that great distances make prison visits few and far between

New report finds great distances discourage prison visits

October 20, 2015


Bernadette Rabuy
(413) 527-0845

report thumbnailEasthampton, MA — Less than a third of people in state prison receive a visit from a loved one in a typical month, puts forth a new report by the Prison Policy Initiative, Separation by Bars and Miles: Visitation in state prisons. The report finds that distance from home is a strong predictor for whether an incarcerated person receives a visit.

“For far too long, the national data on prison visits has been limited to incarcerated parents. We use extensive yet under-used Bureau of Justice Statistics data to shed light on the prison experience for all incarcerated people, finding that prisons are lonely places,” said co-author Bernadette Rabuy, who recently used the same BJS dataset for Prisons of Poverty: Uncovering the pre-incarceration incomes of the imprisoned.

Separation by Bars and Miles finds that most people in state prison are locked up over 100 miles from their families and that, unsurprisingly, these great distances — as well as the time and expense required to overcome them — actively discourage family visits. Given the obvious reluctance of state prison systems to move their facilities, the report offers six correctional policy recommendations that states can implement to protect and enhance family ties. Rabuy explained, “At this moment, as policymakers are starting to understand that millions of families are victims of mass incarceration, I hope this report gives policymakers more reasons to change the course of correctional history.”

The report focuses on incarcerated people in state prisons and is a collaboration between Prison Policy Initiative staff and data scientist Daniel Kopf of the organization’s Young Professionals Network.

The report is available at:


3 responses:

  1. […] Separation by Bars and Miles: New report finds that great distances make prison visits few and far b… Prison Policy Initiative, October 2015 […]

  2. […] By Bernadette Rabuy and Daniel Kopf October 20, 2015 Press release […]

  3. Justin Morgan says:

    I was in prison for 11 years without a single visit because it was so far away from my family. My family would have had to drive all day to get there, stay in a hotel, visit me, then drive all the way home. All that costs way to much money for my family to afford. So I made it easier on them and told them not to visit, I (the horrible predator) couldn’t handle my family feeling bad for not having enough $ to see me. I was in boise, they are in N. Idaho and Las Vegas. People don’t understand what prison does to people until they go through it themselves. Look at vets coming back from war, when they are over fighting somewhere they have bases that are safety areas. Prisoners dont, we have to be ready for attacks at all times,,, for 11 years. PTSD is running rampant in prisons, but no one seams to care unless they have a loved one inside. I have been out for 2 months and it’s a struggle, every day

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