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Many studies have shown a link between inmates maintaining relationships with their loved ones while incarcerated and lower recidivism. Given concerns over costs, security, the movement of inmates, the safety of officers, and controlling contraband coming into a jail, many correctional facilities have moved from traditional face to face visitation to glass partitioned visitation or remote visitation.

Recognizing the need to provide for safe and secure visitation, Securus Technologies has invested over $32M in developing and deploying equipment, connectivity and software to make remote video visitation a viable strategy for correctional facilities to utilize.

Myths vs. Facts

Myth:
In-person visitation is “free” to the visitor.
Fact:
In-person visitation can involve arranging for time off of work, finding child-care, going to a facility, waiting for an inmate to be available, and potentially paying for parking and over-night lodging. When considering the full cost of the visit, remote visitation can be a far less expensive alternative.

 

Example: In-Person Remote
Direct Cost of Visit $0 Varies, $5.00-$20.00
Transportation1 $11.50 $0
Parking2 $8.50 $0
Child-care2 $10 $0
Time-off work2 $20 $0
Over-night lodging2 $20 $0
Total Cost Per Visit $100 $5.00-$20.00
1= uses IRS mileage guideline of $.575 per mile x 20 mile round trip
2= if required

 

Myth:
Remote visitation decreases the availability of visits.
Fact:
While opponents state the number of visits may be reduced given a direct charge for remote service, the fact is that overall visitation availability can be expanded through remote visitation. Remote visitation allows for unlimited hours and more involvement by visitors, and can be more cost-effective for visitors compared to traditional on-site visitation.

 

Example: In-Person Remote
Availability Limited Not Limited
Number of Visits Limited Not Limited
Number of Visitors Limited Not Limited
Allow Children to Visit Varies Not Limited
Risk of Lock-Down Wasted Trip Reschedule

 

Myth:
Family members must own a computer and have high-speed bandwidth to conduct a remote session.
Fact:
Computers and bandwidth are necessary; however, they can be found at public libraries, churches, and other public meeting spaces. In general, access to necessary equipment and bandwidth is much more convenient to family members than having to go to a jail.

 

Myth:
The quality of the visit is diminished with remote visitation and inmates are less well behaved when in-person visitation is reduced.
Fact:
Quality is difficult to measure. Yes, seeing a loved one on a screen is different than seeing them in person; however, many sites have moved away from contact visitation and only allow visitation through glass partitions with telephones for audio. In contrast, remote visitation allows for visits directly from home which can be far less stressful for all concerned. Inmates can interact with their entire families in their homes and participate in social gatherings and family events. Family members can avoid crowded waiting areas, personal searches, and stressful situations by staying home. We have surveyed our video visitation customer base and have not found a site that indicates inmate behavior problems due to the existence of remote video visitation.

 

Myth:
Companies providing remote visitation are making high profits.
Fact:
Securus has invested over $32M in developing, assembling, installing, and supporting video visitation in correctional facilities. To date, Securus has recouped a fraction of this amount through usage fees. Securus offers video visitation primarily as required by facilities in RFPs for inmate telephone contracts.

 

Myth:
Remote visitation is just like free service such as Skype or Face-time.
Fact:
The technology, processes, equipment, support, and software associated with remote visitation is more advanced and costly compared to free services such as Skype. With remote visitation, non-professional visits are monitored by a control center, recorded and stored. Sophisticated scheduling programs are implemented to handle device/session conflicts and to allow for inmate movement between pods. User registration processes are complicated and necessary to insure security.

 

The Case For Remote Visitation:

  1. Provides a safe and secure method for visitation
  2. Provides ability to have more visits at times that are more convenient
  3. Minimizes contraband coming into a facility
  4. Avoids family members being searched and waiting in stressful lobby situations
  5. Allows inmates to interact with family members in home situations
  6. Allows more family members to be involved in visits—much better alternative for children
  7. Minimizes the dangerous and costly movement of inmates within a facility
  8. Can be less expensive when considering full cost of in-person visits