There’s to be no more kissing, and no hugs lasting more than three seconds in New Hampshire’s prison visiting rooms as of this week. The policy change is part of an effort to curb rampant drug smuggling into the prison.
Inmates at the state’s prisons aren’t happy about new visitation rules, and it turns out correctional officers -- who requested the changes -- aren’t exactly happy with how they were rolled out.
On Tuesday, inmates at the Northern New Hampshire Correctional Facility in Berlin protested the changes by refusing to eat breakfast. They then spent the day on lockdown. In particular, officers said, they were protesting losing the right to kiss.
“They’ve been able to do it at visits for probably the last 20 years that I’ve worked there, and probably before I started,” said Justin Jardine, a Captain at the Prison for Men in Concord, and chapter president of the state’s employee’s union. “There’s gonna be some hurt feelings there,” he said.
Jardine says prison staff have been asking for the new policy for a long time. But, he said, “we didn’t get any help to make sure there was a smooth transition.”
Unfilled officer vacancies and extensive overtime have long been problems at the Department of Corrections. Jardine said this may be why the Berlin facility had to go into lockdown to respond to the inmates’ food protest. Additionally, he said, the new rules will be hard to enforce with no additional officers in the visiting rooms. On this matter, the Department declined to comment.