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Wicked Practices: Replacing Prison Visits with Expensive Video Conferencing

It’s unbearable when your loved one is thrown into prison for a minor infraction. But, it’s just evil when the institution bars you from visiting them.

Video Visitation
Video Visitation. Image Source: Telmate

Many prison video conferencing companies charge exorbitant fees to allow you speak to inmates via video screens.

It’s is even more wicked when the prison facility forces you to use video conferencing to chat with your incarcerated loved one in order to enrich their pockets.

A policy that bans in-person visits to prisons or jails is clearly short-sighted. Hundreds of researches underscore the fact that in-person visits for inmates reduces their chances of recidivism.

Costs of Video Conferencing to Families of Incarcerated People Are Enormous

Let’s face it: families with loved ones incarcerated are generally poor… statistically speaking. They are too poor to afford attorney fees and too poor to pay for enormous prison call rates.

Securus Video Call
Securus Video Call. Image Source: Madison Courier

Some are even so poor that they cannot pay transport fare to make long distance prison visits to their imprisoned loved ones. Here are some of the various costs that families put up with to speak to their imprisoned loved ones:

  • Video conferencing
  • Prison phone calls
  • Recording call charges
  • Depositing money into commissary accounts
  • Other overheads
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What then is the monetary costs of using videos to chat with imprisoned loved ones? At some jails and prisons, calls be be as high as:

  • $12.99 for 20 minutes of video calls
  • Up to $10 for 3 minutes of phone calls

Government Earns Kickbacks as Commissions from Call Rates Paid By Families

One study has revealed that the state government earns up to 42% as kickbacks from prison call rates made by families of incarcerated persons.

The arrangement works this way: the government awards contracts for the installation of video conferencing systems. Then, the prison system earns commissions from payments made by families of inmates to make prison calls.

This adds additional burdens to the problems already faced by prison families in staying in touch with inmates.

Video Visits Price Gouging Hurts Prison Families

 It is high time the government stopped squeezing money out of prisoners and their families. The government is becoming predatory on families of inmates and it is encouraging private investors to do the same.

There is nothing bad in introducing video conferencing for those who are too far away to visit their incarcerated loved ones.

But the costs should be very affordable. And video screens should not replace in-person visits where prison loved ones can touch and hug inmates.

Charles Omedo has a degree in Mass Communication and a PGD in Digital Communication. He worked as a newspaper/magazine reporter and editor for many years. Now, he writes daily news articles for private clients. Charles has written for US/UK/Canadian/Indian clients on various niches. He currently writes prison news for loved ones of inmates on the Prison Rideshare Network.

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