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Remote Video Visitation with Inmates has a Promising Future

Written by James C. Lowery


An Advanced Solution for Inmate Visitation


Onsite video visitation systems for communicating with inmates have been available since 1995 using Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV). But recent strides in technology and service has brought video visitation into the 21st century.  Online video visitation allows inmates’ family and friends to visit inmates via personal, secure Internet video conferencing from the comfort of their homes.  The service is similar to video conferencing programs people use every day, but it is specially designed for the correctional environment, with secure video monitoring, pre-scheduled visit time allocations and the ability for the Detention Facility to easily store, recall and review individual visits. Legacy recently installed its newly minted remote video visitation system at the Dona Ana County Detention Center in New Mexico.

Benefits for Friends and Family


Online video visitation (also known as remote video visitation) will make visiting detained individuals easier and more accessible for friends and family.  This service allows friends and family to have a video visit with an inmate from the privacy and comforts of their home. 

Online video visitation significantly lessens visitors’ costs.  Inmates held for terms longer than one year are typically held in large, remote state facilities that can be a long distance from where the inmates’ family and friends live.  Online video visits eliminate visitors’ travel costs, both time and expenses.  

Because of unavoidable variance in travel times, on-site prisoner visits cannot be precisely scheduled, and often they are not pre-scheduled.   Consequently visitors can spend considerable time waiting for a visit.  Online video visitation allows for precise visit scheduling, allows visits to be scheduled across a wider range of days and times, and drastically reduces the time a visitor must wait to see an inmate.


Benefits for Detention Facilities


Personal visits with inmates have become a significant conduit for contraband, which includes items like drugs, cigarettes, cell phones and weapons.  The risk of passing contraband has caused many prisons to not allow personal contact visits with inmates.  According to the FBI, the threat of contraband within a prison is a serious problem which has lead to continued crimes, murders and even the escape of a death row inmate. 

Even open-air visits (no contact) have contraband risks.  Because of security concerns, allowing personal visits only across a transparent barrier is quite common.  Such visits have a similar interactive closeness to online video visitation, but bear much higher costs for all parties involved.

Typical Prison Visitation Booth. Photograph: Alamy


Another benefit of online video visitation is that it lessens prison operating costs.  Moving inmates securely from cellblocks (or pods) to visiting areas requires substantial prison staff time.  A physically separate visitation facility also requires dedicated staffing.  Detention-grade video visitation kiosks for inmates, like the one pictured at the beginning of this post, can be distributed throughout the cellblocks in a way that eliminates the additional staffing necessary to supervise video visitation stations.  Such efficiencies in turn allow detention facilities to offer a wider range of times and days for visits at a much lower cost to the facility and taxpayers.


Benefits for Inmates


Online video visitation also serves to promote successful prisoner re-entry into society after release.  As research has shown from the Bureau of Justice Statistics on Inmate Recidivism, newly released inmates face enormous challenges in surviving as law-abiding citizens.  Support from family and friends plays a critical role in successful re-entry and integration.  Online video visitation, by fostering communication between inmates and their support group, helps inmates maintain the positive relationships they depend on when released.


Thanks to the lower cost and convenience of online video visitation, family and friends will be able to visit with inmates more frequently.  Warden Barela, from the Dona Ana County Detention Center, says, “The convenience of visits from home, a place where all family members can visit, have had a calming, positive effect on inmate behavior.  This is always welcomed.”


Let us know your thoughts on Online Video Visitation at detention facilities by leaving a comment below, or dropping us a line on Facebook or Google+.

About Legacy Inmate Communications

Legacy is a nationwide provider and has been a leader in the inmate communications industry for over 17 years, with headquarters in Cypress, California.  We provide favorable rates for friends and family, unparalleled customer service and a host of technology options that complement all parties involved in reducing inmate recidivism. Legacy is unique in that it is a single-source provider, researching, developing, building integration and implementing every aspect of its Inmate Telephone Systems and Video Visitation Systems.

Comments (20) -

  • Bill Schiffner

    4/26/2014 8:32:29 AM | Reply

    I'm working on a product round up story for Corrections Forum Magazine covering the TJA Conference.  Can you please email me a high res image (300 dpi) of your remote video visitation system that we can run in the article

    Bill Schiffner
    Corrections Forum Magazine

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