Conjugal rooms a hope behind bars for convicts

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published 25.04.2016 23:19

A pink room is neither pink nor a room in the sense of a room in a house; they have thick bars on the windows and drab paint on the walls. Yet, it is the only place where imprisoned convicts can have a sense of privacy with their spouses in Turkey's crowded prisons. Furnished like a regular hotel room with a double bed, sofa, television, bathroom and kitchen utensils, pink rooms as they are referred to in Turkey are at least painted pink, and are the place where these conjugal visits take place. A new report quoted by Turkish media outlets suggests that conjugal rooms may make prison a better place for convicts and prepare them for life after their release.

The report by the Justice Ministry was presented to a parliamentary inquiry committee on the state of Turkish families this week. Since their inception three years, 54,000 visits have taken place in conjugal rooms, the ministry's report says. The report underlines that the conjugal visits are presented as an award to convicts for good behavior, undoubtedly motivating married convicts. Pink rooms are a "means to lessen the feeling of loneliness experienced by convicts, to keep families together, prevent mental disorders linked to sexual deprivation and to help convicts to adapt to life again once they are released," the ministry says.

Above all, the ministry states that conjugal visits are "a reward for convicts" that affects their overall behavior while in incarceration. To receive the reward in return for their good behavior, convicts must participate in educational and rehabilitation classes, with an increasing number of them signing up for them, the report says. Conjugal visits are not the only reward for convicts. Extra phone time is also awarded based on good behavior as well as longer visits for relatives, more access to social and cultural events and access to personal televisions in single-person cells.

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