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Chapter 5 tracks the spread of conjugal visits in the 1960s and 1970s, an era commonly associated with the beginnings of law-and-order measures. Even as legislatures drifted toward increasingly severe sentencing laws, elected officials and corrections professionals advocated increased liberties for prisoners, including conjugal visits. Following the example of Mississippi, conjugal visits were adopted by California prisons in 1968 with the endorsement of Governor Ronald Reagan. The solution to prison unrest was to increase opportunities for extended visitation rather than putting more barriers between prisoners and the outside world. Prisoners, too, from New York State to Washington State, urged conjugal visits. The chapter highlights how prisoners overwhelmingly supported conjugal visits through agitation and litigation, even as they recognized their coercive and heteropatriarchal nature. In the end, because conjugal visits were a “privilege” and not a “right,” they could be taken away.

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