Using the Internet for Inmate VisitationBesides reducing the security risks associated with moving inmates internally and screening visitors externally, the new systems will allow more visitors to communicate at a time, whereas traditional methods that include phone conversations through heavy, plate glass limits the number of people and amount of time for visits, some even restrict children.
Online visitation for inmates and their families
The Cape May Corrections Center in New Jersey, Washoe County Jail in Nevada and the Charlotte County jail in Florida have all recently announced active systems for families to visit with an inmate online from the comfort and privacy of home using the Internet. From the county website Sheriff Gary Schaffer said, “First and foremost, it will benefit our officer's safety by very rarely moving inmates throughout the facility for visits and at the same time generate revenue to offset expenses and save the taxpayer's money.” which are two of the biggest concerns with the growing cost of housing prisoners.
How online visitation services are provided
With a service that is similar to Skype, one provider of online inmate visitation services to two of the facilities is iWebVisit.com. Much like video conferencing, they can also offer secure connections for Attorneys, Clergy and other confidential discussions. An article on pressofAtlanticCity.com reports "The county bought 27 terminals for $67,000 using $50,000 in capital expenses and $17,000 from inmate fees. Under a profit-sharing deal, the county will receive 46 percent of the company's proceeds in the five-year contract.". The county also reports to have had about 10,000 uses for the system last year, which would have saved visitors substantially; a 20 minute visit is about $10, which, when compared to travel time and distance expenses, really is a value to both the family members and improves the safety for inmates and staff of these facilities.