Charles (E.Z.) Williams' lament (Commentary, March 10) over the hardship that will be imposed on prison inmates (a group to which he belongs) if the conjugal visits program is ended really broke my heart. This lament comes from a man who took it upon himself to end conjugal enjoyment forever to another by the act of murder in 1978. If prison inmates don't wish to be put in the position of being denied the pleasure of intimacy for extended periods or a lifetime, let them think about this before they commit their crimes.
I wonder if in his anguish over the prospect of withdrawal of conjugal visits Williams has ever considered the lifetime anguish he brought to the family of his murder victim. Also, the last thing we need in an era in which the welfare state has finally been thoroughly discredited is a program guaranteed to produce welfare dependents--the offspring that result from conjugal visits.
I just returned from a "family visit" with my husband and stepdaughter at the California Training Facility, Soledad. My stepdaughter was so excited to see her father that she called me a week before and told me she was "counting the days." We left L.A. about 6:30 p.m. and arrived at our motel about 11:30 p.m., after a drive of some 300 miles. The next day, after we checked in with officers at the prison, presented our paperwork, luggage and enough food for three people for 2 1/2 days (all to be searched) we sat down for a three-hour wait as others arrived and were searched. My stepdaughter said, "What if I don't recognize my dad?" She hadn't seen him in 18 months. My heart broke at the thought that this little girl (just turned 14) wasn't sure she would know her own father. When I tried to explain to her that we might not be able to come on any more visits she said, "That's stupid, I want to be with my dad." I want to be with my husband, too. Do the prisoners' families have to be punished for loving people who are incarcerated? We are stigmatized enough.