Jackson, Miss. (WJTV) – In 2001, Joseph Martin was sentenced to 20 years in jail for armed robbery and aggravated assault. Martin’s most recent picture, since being in jail, is a mugshot. Three years ago, Joseph married Stephanie. There was a ceremony but no photos. His wife wants that to change.
Stephanie Martin says, “Why does anyone want a picture with their spouse, their child, their dad? It’s to capture that moment. The moment that I have is not perfect but it’s my moment. and I have 4 more years and I want those moments captured so I can have them at home with me.”
Stephanie is part of a group who petitioned MDOC and some state lawmakers in August. They’re asking that the Mississippi Department of Corrections allow photos to be taken of inmates with their families. Stephanie is even willing to pay for a picture. The petition comes with comments from wives, fiances and former and current inmates. Joseph Martin writes in the petition, “Having a picture of my wife and I would build up my morale and keep me focused on my dream of going home to her.”
Stephanie is also concerned with inmate visitation. MDOC has said they would change visitation rules, allowing only 10 immediate family members to visit inmates, in order to prevent contraband from entering prisons. But because a group of pastors and the ACLU questioned the decision, MDOC postponed making the changes.
Stephanie says, “They had a friend that’s visited for 8 years that helps that person to have a reason to go on and behave. You know they take that visitation that privilege away from people that do not have a spouse.”
WJTV checked with MDOC today. There’s no update on when a new visitation policy might go into effect.
MDOC did send the following statement regarding inmate photographs:
You can find the petition here: https://www.change.org/p/congressmen-bring-back-visitation-family-photography-to-mississippi-prisons