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The security search process for visitors, and any delays getting prisoners out of their cells mean that a two-hour visit can easily end up being half an hour shorter.Women with children usually bring them – so time spent alone, partner-to-partner, is a rarity.It explored the possibility of conjugal visits – which are not permitted in the UK but operate successfully in much of Europe, Canada and even the Middle East.Lorraine Atkinson was one of the researchers behind the paper.“Intimacy is a key word,” she explains, “that was something that clearly came out from the research – the partners didn’t necessarily want to go in and have a sexual encounter.I think people should have sex, I think I should have sex and it would probably be better for everyone if it was with my husband.”She makes a compelling point.But it’s certainly not the opinion of every “prison wife” out there.They wanted to be able to touch, cuddle them, that kind of thing.”The rigid structure of prison visits undoubtedly contributes to relationship breakdown.
Josie and Rob have years ahead of them, devoid of any form of physical intimacy: “It would be great if I can be okay and stay faithful to him and I hope that will happen.She had a healthy sexual relationship with her husband before sentencing and felt that it was integral to her happy, 16-year-long relationship.For Josie, maintaining her marriage is now a priority – and one that she believes is crucial to the future wellbeing of her two daughters.“My children will certainly be more okay if I can keep my relationship together over the next eight years, which is no easy feat without any form of intimacy,” she says.’ Intimacy was the furthest thing from my mind – what I wanted to do was thrash him over the head.”“For me, the visits were really important, it was about time really getting to know each other, dealing with why he made the decision to do what he did instead of talking things through in the first instance,” Debbie says. Anything more intimate, I couldn’t have got my head around it.”There’s no denying their success, though.“It’s about being able to provide contact that gives reassurance. Lorraine from The Howard League visited Halden prison in Norway in 2014, where conjugal visits are allowed.
Unlike Josie, Debbie wasn’t aware of the full extent of her husband’s crimes when he was sentenced.