Opinion: Most prisoners are parents too. It’s unconscionable to keep their children from visiting them.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA JUNE 2, 2016-Death row inmates hang out as part of there free time at the re
Inmates at the restrictive housing unit, formerly known as solitary confinement, at the Men’s Central Jail in Los Angeles.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: In addition to being foolish and cruel, banning in-person visits to inmates likely contributes to intergenerational trauma. (“Banning in-person jail visits is foolish and needlessly cruel,” editorial, May 30)

Most incarcerated adults have minor child-ren, and many will return to caregiving roles upon their release. In addition to the benefits of in-person visits for inmates, such visits can offer children vital opportunities to maintain their connection to their parents, reassure them that their parent is safe, and provide space for important family conversations about the child’s well-being and planning for the future.

Banning these visits creates unintended consequences for families and all of our communities. Rather than banning in-person visits, jails and prisons should be working to make their facilities more therapeutic and supportive of children and families.

Many facilities nationwide, including one here in Minnesota, are working to identify ways to maintain safety and security, while also remembering that the people we’ve locked away are parents and members of our community.


Rebecca Shlafer, Minneapolis

The writer, an assistant pediatrics professor at the University of Minnesota, is a psychologist who researches children with incarcerated parents.

Follow the Opinion section on Twitter @latimesopinion and Facebook

Get our weekly Opinion newsletter