Document Type


Publication Date


Journal Title

Wake Forest Law Review




Incarceration is a family problem—more than 2.7 million children in the United States have a parent in jail or prison. It adversely impacts family relationships, financial stability, and the mental health and well-being of family members. Empirical research shows that communications between inmates and their families improve family stability and successful reintegration while also reducing the inmate’s incidence of behavioral issues and recidivism rates. However, systemic barriers significantly impact the ability of inmates and their families to communicate. Both traditional and newly developed technological communication tools have inherent advantages and disadvantages. In addition, private contracting of communication services too often leads to abusive practices and conflicts of interest for facilities.

Although technology plays a critical and expanding role in communications, a comprehensive evaluation of the methods and policies surrounding inmate communications is needed. Efforts to address incarceration rates, education, and research gaps, along with an understanding of the potential and limitations of communication technologies, are critical to the development of policy initiatives. These tools should be employed with a regulated approach to choosing and contracting for communication services to effectively reduce barriers and improve outcomes.

First Page


Last Page


Num Pages


Volume Number


Issue Number



Wake Forest University School of Law

FIle Type




To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.