Marie Gottschalk, a University of Pennsylvania political scientist and author of the 2014 book Caught: The Prison State and the Lockdown of American Politics, said that the courts have typically given prisons wide berth to adopt restrictive policies in the name of security.
"There's a broader trend across the country of making it more difficult to visit people who are incarcerated," she said. "We're seeing greater use of videotaping rather than letting people come visit. It's part of dehumanizing people in prison. It's also making their reentry much more difficult."
That's not to mention the impact on children. Having an incarcerated parent, she said, is linked with mental health problems, behavioral issues and depression in particular.
"Many times, people think, the person in prison committed a crime, so it's better for the kid to be away. But what we've found for most kids is, unless there was abuse against a parent or the child, it's very helpful for the parent to be able to see the child. Denying that contact on top of the issues the child is already facing is going to make those issues even more severe."
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