The city and county jails in Denver only allow visitors to speak to their incarcerated loved ones via a video console. Families are not allowed to have physical contact with inmates. Visits are video-only.
Watchdog Explains Unfairness of Video-Only Prison Visits in Denver
One of the Denver jails was intentionally designed that way to make human visits impossible except via video conferencing. But the Office of the Independent Monitor in Denver finds this development inhuman and seeks for a dramatic reform.
Nick Mitchell, who manages the Independent Monitor in Denver, says it is inhuman for inmates to be kept away from ever seeing or touching their visiting relatives for months and months on end.
And that it is wicked on visiting families to travel long distances only to have to speak to incarcerated loved ones via rows of video screens and telephone receivers.
Video-Only Visits Are Inhuman On Both Inmates & Visiting Loved Ones
Mitchell says it is particularly traumatic for parents to visit and not be able to touch, kiss or hug their children who are still awaiting trials. He added visiting folks are not guilty of any charges and so should not be subjected to restricted contacts with incarcerated inmates.
Since the no-personal-contact policy applies to those already sentenced and those awaiting trial, Mitchell said accused persons within the city and county jails remain innocent until proven guilty and sentenced by the courts.
In a report submitted to the city authorities, Mitchell made it clear from several studies that in-person visitations go a long way to reduce recidivism and improve the mental health of incarcerated persons. Mitchell said:
“I think we’re just not taking advantage of those opportunities to try and improve behavior while inmates are inside, and reduce recidivism through in-person visitation.”
Denver City Officials to Spend $1.4 Million to Facilitate In-Person Prison Visits
Elias Diggins, jail division chief, has taken steps to address the situation. He has constituted a 35-man committee to examine the possibility of adding in-person visits to the jails.
Diggins belongs to the American Correctional Association which advocates for both video and personal jail visitations. The Denver Sheriff also agrees with this development. Diggins says:
“Jails are now understanding why in-person contact visitations are so important to the folks that are in our custody, as well as their families and friends.
Ensuring that they stay connected, and that they have folks that they can lean on when they’re released.”
Diggins added that the city will go forward to review its video-only prison communication which has been operative since 2005. He clarified the city may spend up to $1.4 million to make the necessary changes.
These changes will include building personal contact sections at a couple of the jails and also allow for video conferencing with inmates from families’ homes.