The first correctional facility in the U.S. to ban in-person prison visits was Bristol County Jail and House of Correction in North Dartmouth, Massachusetts. In-person visits were banned, requiring visitors to pay for video calls instead.
Rates and time available to make the calls vary around the country. For example, at Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility, located in Burlington, Vermont, a 30-minute call costs $9.95.
JPay Takes on Prison Video Visits for Big Bucks
Companies like JPay and Securus Technologies are the ones handling this project, becoming the “middle-companies” between the inmates and the outside world. From this these companies get to gain large amounts of profits.
The Bristol County Jail video visitation system is being handled by Securus Technologies. They made $404.6 Million in 2014 alone. Securus advertises the video visitations with captions like:
“Visit an Inmate at Home”
For-profit video visitation systems have been spreading fast like wildflowers throughout the nation’s prisons and jails. For the companies manning these projects to get all the support they need, they have managed to convince some participating prisons and jails to completely ban ALL in-person visits.
By doing this they are able to monopolize the communications between incarcerated individuals and their prison loved ones. This is just their way of exploiting the incarcerated individuals and their prison families at a considerable psychological and emotional cost.
Selfish Reasons for Banning In-Person Prison Visits
Reason #1: The reason for banning the in-person prison visits is because some inmates had drugs being supplied to them by the prison visitors. This new policy may stop the drug supply in Bristol County Jail. However, innocent people being punished along with the guilty ones.
Why not just beef up the security and make sure the searches done on the visitors are thorough?
Reason #2: They are also banning in-person prison visits thinking they would need less amounts of sheriff’s deputies on duty because they will not have visitors roaming around to monitor. Nevertheless, they end up spending more money for various reasons:
- They have to get the new technology fixed
- They have to pay for any necessary upgrades
- They have to deal with the incarcerated people who end up being violent as a result of this new law
Disadvantages of Banning In-Person Prison Visits
The human touch plays an important role in supporting the inmates. Prisoners need their prison loved ones during such times more than ever. Subjecting their link to their loved ones to only video calls and emails not only negatively affects the incarcerated individuals, but also their prison families, friends and loved ones.
Maintaining the connections of the prisoners with their prison loved ones reduces the risks of recidivism. This also makes their reentry processes back into their communities much easier. This policy is a cruel and inconsiderate act that should be done away with on a nationwide level.
Video: Bristol County Jail To Replace In-Person Visits With Video Chats
The video below was uploaded to YouTube by CBS Boston. WBZ-TV’s Louisa Moller reports:
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