Friday, Durham County Detention Facility announced it would be implementing Durham Jail video visitation on October 15. According to the statement from the Sherri’s Office, the pilot program has been operating since 2013.
The trial of the program began immediately after the commissioners of the Durham County accepted funding from a Justice Department grant to cater for the program’s expenses. However, activists and prison loved ones fear this is the next step to eliminating in-person visits at the facility altogether.
Removal of the In-Person Visits at Durham County Detention Facility
There has been a lot of concern from the activists since the Durham Jail video visitation plan was launched. They don’t believe DC Detention Facility intends to implement this video visit system, and still leave in-person visits in place.
Activists protesting for conducive conditions at the jails fear that video visits will replace the in-person visits in Durham County. And if that happens, the activists claim, it will hurt the personal connection between the inmates and their prison loved ones.
But, the officials at the facility insist that the activists’ fear is unnecessary. Sheriff Mike Andrews of Durham County said that in-person visits will remain operational.
Sheriff Speaks on Benefits of Durham Jail Video Visitation System
Andrews also explained the exact reasons why Durham Jail video visitation idea was adopted. According to him, the technology ensures that the facility provides professional, courteous and modern customer service.
But, to who???
The video visits system offers detainees another alternative to link with their prison loved ones while they are in custody. Visitors intending to use Durham Jail video visitation service will still be required to travel to Durham jail. Once they arrive, they will use one of the eight monitors to communicate with their loved ones via video chat.
The Sheriff’s Office added that it doesn’t plan to charge the users of the monitors. It also said that detainees now have only two 20-minute in-person visits each week. A third visit will be allowed, but only through the Durham Jail video visitation service, the Sheriff’s Office explained.
Video visitations are available during specific hours from Mondays through Thursdays. Additionally, there will be a half-hour slots in the evenings for in-person visits.
But Saturdays and Sundays are ideal days for in-person visits at Durham Jail. Visitors are given four hours of in-person visit interaction with their incarcerated loved ones.
The Effectiveness of Durham Jail Video Visitation
Recent research by the Vera Institute on Washington prisons discovered some interesting statistics. According to the results, inmates who took part in video visits also saw a rise in their in-person visits.
This report, however, suggests that the advantages of video visitation depend on two aspects:
- Whether the service is provided as an additional alternative to in-person visits
- Whether it’s an affordable, remote program that is accessible from any computer
The research, therefore, recommended some measures to ensure that such changes don’t interfere with people’s democratic rights. Video visitation services should:
- Be available to everyone
- Not be of poor quality
- Not be of high costs
Durham’s Sheriff’s Office hinted on its plans to provide remote at-home visitations services as well. But, the high costs associated with video visits seems to be preventing its implementation.