Texas plans to allow marriage ceremonies inside prisons between an inmate and an intended spouse who isn't incarcerated, officials disclosed Tuesday.The story included a few details about how the new system would work:
Inmates in Texas historically have been allowed to marry by proxy, meaning someone stood in for the prisoner at a ceremony held somewhere other than the penitentiary. But a state law that took effect a year ago and requires both parties be present for a marriage ceremony has had the unintended consequence of halting proxy marriages in Texas prisons. At the same time, U.S. Supreme Court rulings have upheld prisoners' right to marry.
State prison officials said they're framing the new rules now.
"Given the restrictions and understanding offenders have a legal right to marry, the agency is drafting a policy that allows an inmate to marry a non-incarcerated person within our facilities," agency spokesman Jason Clark said.
According to the plans, the marriages would have to comply with prison visitation rules, be consistent with the prisoner's visitation status and require no special amenities.RELATED: See this interesting, related story from The New Statesman.
For example, a death row inmate is not allowed any outside contact. While the inmate could get married under the new policy, the prisoner still would be separated by glass and be allowed no contact with a spouse.
Rules already on the books don't allow conjugal visits.
The spouse would have to obtain the marriage license, make arrangements for someone to conduct the nuptials and be responsible for any payment to that person. Prison chaplains would not be involved, Clark said. Attendance would be limited to the offender, the spouse and the person conducting the ceremony.
"Some of the other details are still being worked out at this point," he said.