By Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) –– A federal class action suit filed Thursday challenges the visitation policy at a Philadelphia detention Center.

The plaintiffs claim the policy is cruel and unusual punishment.

Under the new policy, which was implemented in 2016, pre-trial inmates housed at the Federal Detention Center of Philadelphia may only receive visits by immediate family, such as a current spouse, parents, siblings or children.

“We’re challenging it because it keeps hundreds of inmates there from having visits with their kids,” said Ben Geffen.

Ben Geffen is a staff attorney at the Public Interest Law Center and one of the attorneys representing the main plaintiffs, Allen Woods and Keith Campbell, two inmates awaiting trial and have been unable to see their children because of the policy which requires kids to be accompanied by an adult who is an immediate family member; since they are not married to the children’s mother she cannot bring them to the facility.

“This policy violates the constitutional rights of inmates, it is a stricter policy for pre-trial inmates who haven’t been convicted of anything yet, than it is for sentenced inmates,” said Geffen.

Studies show visits from children lead to better inmate outcomes. No word yet from the FDC.