Prisoners in Denver’s detention centers haven’t been able to have in person visits with friends and loved ones since 2005.
Nicholas Mitchell, the Denver Independent Monitor, says it’s time for a change. He cites research about how positively in person visitation affects inmates, and says that restoring this type of system is not only humane, but it can improve overall behavior while reducing recidivism.
On Wednesday, Mitchell released his semi-annual report to the sheriff and police departments. In it, he said that this is the perfect time to rethink the policy, because the city is in the process of purchasing a new video conference system.
He says that the city should reconsider the substantial financial investment in the video system and make the change to in person visitation.
He recommends that the Sheriff’s Department begin creating a plan to get the transition going, and understands that there would be challenges that go with this type of change. He says that the OIM is ready to assist the DSD in whatever way they can to help ensure a smooth transition.
At this time, Denver is negotiating a $1.4 million contract for the next five years for a new video visitation system. The company, Securus is one of the major video visitation system players, and has been called out by critics of video visitation for high fees imposed on inmates and families, as well as the restrictions that county jails face when they implement it.
Advocates of the system like Daelene Mix, spokeswoman for the Denver Department of Safety, feel that the reasons for video visitations in the first place are solid.
It helped to reduce the contraband that was smuggled into the jails, and also helped to eliminate potential problems that would arise in domestic violence cases. The department, however, is open to considering restoring some in-person visits.