WILMINGTON — Families and friends of Clinton County Jail inmates will have the option of visiting with them via technology similar to FaceTime or Skype rather than making a trip.
The upgrade will be better for visitors especially those who live in other counties, said Clinton County Sheriff Ralph D. Fizer Jr. It will be better for jail operations too because it will trim prisoner movements that involve corrections officers and carry greater risks of fights.
Like the existing telephone service for inmates, there will be a fee for visitors to use the two-way video and audio service. The “visit from home” by screen will be provided by devices that will be owned on an ongoing basis by Securus Technologies, a prison technology company.
Computers will be placed in pods, which are sections where inmates are housed within the detention facility, the sheriff said.
It still will be necessary to schedule a time for the visit, when a corrections officer will escort the inmate to the computer in the nearest pod.
Visitation is a critical time at any jail, said Fizer, as it requires a lot of corrections officers and involves the moving of inmates back and forth. Presently for inmate visitation at the Clinton County Jail, there are four two-hour blocks of time over a week.
The in-person, face-to-face visits through a glass window will be maintained, said Col. Brian Prickett, chief deputy with the sheriff’s office.
Having two-way video visitation also will help when the jail houses a deaf or hearing-impaired inmate, said Fizer. A federal judge in Michigan has determined that detention facilities should provide such inmates with communications technology better than captioned phones, the sheriff said.
The live interactive video service will enable a hearing-impaired inmate and his or her off-site visitor to utilize sign language.
The five-year agreement with Securus Technologies also will supply each inmate with a device like a tablet computer or iPad. The device won’t have Internet access, according to Prickett, but will have basic tablet functions such as games.
Idle minds can be dangerous, Prickett said.
The device will have the capacity to message or text, with a fee for each message.
The prison technology company can monitor the messaging to see whether the texts or photos are inappropriate, said Prickett. If so, the inmate will be suspended from using the device, he said.
The upgrade will not cost the county anything, said Fizer.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.