Love Beyond Bars: How Prison Couples Get Intimate

Published July 30th, 2019

When someone gets locked up behind bars, they’re not just giving up their freedom. They are also giving up all semblance of a normal life they could have lived including romance.

That’s why being in a romantic relationship with prisoners or what we called “love beyond bars” entails a lot of sacrifices. For one, you need to get used to not having them around. Phone calls, letters, and occasional visits are, more often than not, the only type of intimacy you’re ever allowed.

How Conjugal Visits Work In US Prisons

There are currently only four states in the US that allow conjugal visits. California, Connecticut, New York, and Washington allow inmates to have extended visits with family members. These visits could last from 6 to 24 hours.

Only inmates from medium or lesser security prisons are allowed such perks. It’s primarily intended to promote family relationships and ease their re-entry into society.

Prison facilities allocate a certain space within the prison walls for conjugal visits. It can be a separate room or a trailer furnished to look like a typical apartment. Soaps, linens, towels, sheets, condoms are often provided.

Not all prisoners in these states are automatically entitled to conjugal visits. Jails mostly use it as a reward for good behavior. So prisoners have to apply for such privilege. If they’ve committed any infractions while serving time, their application will be denied. They also have to pass a health screening.

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The Struggles Of Loving An Inmate

Love and intimacy almost always go hand in hand. But when you love a person locked up behind bars or what they called “love beyond bars”, you must be prepared to let go of the latter.

Apart from the lack of intimacy, prison couples also have to struggle with financial concerns. Even with companies like GlobalTel that provide cheap jail calls and jail postcards, they still have to bear the burden of the high cost of prison visits. Also, prison couples need to know how to sign up for calls from inmates.

Plane tickets and hotel fees are just some of the expenses prison couples worry about during visits. If the facility is located in far-flung areas (as the case usually is), they will have to pay for gas and car rentals too.

But the biggest struggle that prison couples have to face is uncertainty. When one partner gets locked up and the other has to wait outside, there’s always that uncertainty about each other’s loyalty. There’s also that uncertainty about themselves. Will they be able to survive a long-distance relationship? Can their love be enough to withstand temptations from within and without?

Advantage Of Prison Relationships

Even though prison couples have to endure so much to fight for their love, there’s a silver lining to it.

Taking physical intimacy out in a romantic relationship constitutes the ultimate test. If the relationship survives this, then it’s very likely that it’s going to last.

Creativity Is Key

Because conjugal visits are considered rare in the US, prison couples can get very crafty to get even just a glimpse of intimacy.

There are various ways by which prison couples “consummate” their relationship. There’s the ever-popular phone sex. Even though it’s monitored, some of them would just have to brave through it. Steamy letters are also another means of expressing intimate desires between the couples. It’s also thoroughly scanned but as long as there are no nude photos, guards will just shrug it off.

During phone calls, it’s not unheard of for couples to start a fight to distract whoever is listening. Then they (very very quickly) exchange very very intimate messages. Some would also purposely get into trouble so they will be placed in non-contact visits. There they can freely take their clothes off without any other people watching.


GlobalTel’s inmate calling service lowers jail call rates by 90% for jail calls to US facilities. Sign up for our service to eliminate the long distance jail call fees for $45.99 for 90 days. Make US/domestic and international jail calls at the local rate and stay connected to your incarcerated loved ones for less. Learn more about how to sign up for calls from inmates on our website.

Judy Ponio an author for GlobalTel


Judy Ponio is a firm believer in the power of sharing knowledge. Having extensive experience in the prison industry, she wants to share what she knows with the world. Judy also loves to write about political and legal topics.