There is a battle currently raging at Sangamon County Jail over video visitation. The provider of the video visitation, a company called IC Solutions (icsolutions.com), argues that the video visitation technology will make it easier on jail personnel when it comes to personal visitations. IC Solutions argues that video visitation is a great tool for families that need to travel great distances in order to visit with their incarcerated loved one.
Sangamon County Jail is installing video screens in all jail cells, reports the State Journal Register. When a family member shows up to the jail in order to visit with their incarcerated loved one, they will be linked through the Internet and able to talk to each other through computer screens. Prior to the installation of these video visitation screens, friends and family visited with their incarcerated loved ones through a thick glass screen. They could see each other but had to talk over a telephone line. Now all they will see of each other is a grainy computer screen.
Prison privacy groups argue that this will increase recidivism. They cite studies that show visitation reduces a prisoner’s penchant for committing more crimes once released from jail. Prison privacy groups believe that video visitation does not replace in-person visitation and will drive crime rates through the roof.
The prison privacy groups most painful statement was that it is difficult to tell a child that they cannot see their parents anymore. If the video visitation program goes through, many children will arrive at the prison expecting to see their parents but will be forced to visit with them over a grainy computer screen. I personally believe that the prison privacy group is correct in saying that video visitation cannot replace in-person visitation. I believe families arriving at the prison facility must be given a choice.