Dear Ms. Schriro,
Arizona Prison Wives Club will address many other concerns in the coming months, concerns that impact the safety and health of our loved ones. In addition to their physical well-being, we are concerned with their emotional well-being. This month the concern is regarding a recent policy change impacting the holiday visitation schedule. The Department of Corrections, under your leadership, has made efforts at providing incentives for appropriate behavior. We appreciate the incentives because it encourages our loved ones to make better decisions, hopefully leading to better lives for them and their families.According to Department Order 911.05, Paragraph 1.9, visitors may no longer visit on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Mother’s Day is an added holiday visit and is always on a Sunday, so visits are obviously available. We want to express our past appreciation for Thanksgiving and Christmas visitation. We believe that these are the two most important holidays. Respectively, they are important for inmates and their families, as well as correctional officers and their families. Thanksgiving and Christmas provides valuable time for inmates with family connections. In many cases, because of visiting from out of town, there are family members who may only get to visit the inmate during these two holidays. We ask that you consider reinstating these two holidays. This incentive would improve the emotional well-being of our loved ones during a very emotionally-charged time of the year. Young children especially need to be able to spend Christmas day with their incarcerated mother or father. We know that our loved ones are very unhappy with this policy change and we, as family members, are as well. Some visitors, in speaking with correctional officers regarding holiday visits, have been told that visitation officers did not get to see their families because they had to work Thanksgiving and Christmas. We know that incentive pay is offered in most companies when employees work major holidays. We also understand that it might be more difficult to staff visitation with those who volunteer to work holidays because the visitation staff is already in place. It is most likely difficult to rotate correctional officers in and out of that support department. However, prison is an operation that runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and correctional officers are scheduled to work every day, even holidays. With that, we ask, what the exception is for the visitation staff? We have two suggestions we would like for you to consider. Please note that our preference is the first suggestion.1) Reinstate Christmas and Thanksgiving visitation. 2) Post Thanksgiving visits for the Friday after Thanksgiving. And for Christmas, if it falls on a Wednesday through Saturday, give the holiday visit on the Friday of that week; and if it falls on the Sunday through Tuesday, give the holiday visit on the Monday of that week.We see this proposition as a win/win for both the Arizona Department of Corrections and the families and friends of inmates. Please thoughtfully consider these suggestions, as we do find it very important during that sentimental yet vulnerable time of the year to keep those we love in a festive spirit during the hardest time of their incarceration. Thanks again for your time in getting to know the Arizona Prison Wives Club.
Arizona Prison Wives Club Member