For approximately a month now, inmates in the older segment of the Williams County Jail haven’t had access to video visitations, the only means of jail visits.
The inconvenience was caused by delays in connecting the Williams County Correctional Center’s new video visitation systems with the older one.
The communication breakdown issue started following the demolition of the correctional facility’s former video visitation room. It was part of the $20 million jail expansion program.
Even though the new visitation room remained operational, the gadgets in the older section of the jail weren’t compatible with the recently installed system. The situation left almost 40-inmates unable to receive any visitor.
Reactions from Inmates & Their Prison Loved Ones
Jail administrators have been receiving calls from angry loved ones and complaints from the inmates since the upgrade began almost two months ago.
Some prisoners were relocated to new parts of the jail, during the process. At first, visitors had been barred from visiting the inmates in the new segment until the new system was connected.
But later the problem remained to those in the older segment after the new equipment became incompatible with former.
A woman from Williston who initially used to visit her grandson on Tuesdays and Thursdays since his July arrest has now been unable to visit him for one month.
The woman says that the inmate has a younger brother (15-years-old) who used to, sometimes, accompany her during some of the visits. But now he’s unhappy because he can’t meet his elder brother in jail.
The poor woman only sees her grandson in court, where there is no conversing. The woman, just like many people with their loved ones in the facility, is wondering why things have taken too long to normalize.
She believes that the delay may be because the jail officials don’t care whether the detainees are visited or not.
She recommends that guards should be walking the inmates around the building, at least once in a week, to enable them to see their loved ones.
Jail Officials’ Efforts to Solve the Situation
However, jail officials dispute the request of moving inmates around the building. They say, such movements might facilitate communication among inmates in various cells, which is against the state regulations.
Laws require that:
- The convicted inmates should not interact with those awaiting their sentences
- Inmates who are perceived to pose a high risk shouldn’t stay close to the others
Meanwhile, the jail’s staffers are trying to figure out a short-term solution while the new software and computers are being made compatible.
Already the short-term equipment has been delivered, but it is not clear when the electricians will be done with wiring and installation.
The jail officials admit that they are aware of the situations which the inmates and their loved ones are going through right now. And they have been updating the detainees so that they can reduce the anxiety and frustrations among them.
The inmates, on their part, have always been understanding whenever they have been asked to remain patient, following the breakdown.