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Why Jails Are Replacing Visits With Video Calls?

Time: 2020-08-12

In recent years, more and more jails have introduced video-calling services.

Theoretically, these products could make it easier for inmates to maintain their relationships with family and friends outside.

Studies repeatedly show that inmates with frequent connections to the outside world are more likely to refrain from conduct that would cause them to jeopardize early release.According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, inmates who maintain strong relationships with friends and family greatly reduce their risk of recidivism. Also, many friends and family don’t live near facilities, so onsite visits can be expensive, inconvenient and uncomfortable. With  remote video visits, friends and family can have more personal contact from the comfort of their own homes. In-person visitation requires more staff supervision—both to escort inmates to and from visitation rooms and to make sure no contraband changes hands during a visit. So switching to video visitation can save cash-strapped jails money.

But jails also profit more directly from limiting in-person visits. While on-site video visits are usually free, the companies providing the system generally offer a paid off-site video-calling service, too. And jails get a hefty percentage of that money.

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