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Video Visitation: How Private Companies Push for Visits by Video and Families Pay the Price

Accession Number: 031368
Media Type: 
Document

This publication explains how video visitation negatively impacts the families of inmates. "While prison advocates have long anticipated the technology that would allow for video visits as a way to increase communication between incarcerated individuals, their family, and community members, it was always envisioned as a supplement to in-person visitation. The reality of incarceration is that many individuals are assigned to units in rural communities, far away from their loved ones, burdening mostly low-income families with travel and lodging expenses far beyond their means. When one’s family does not have a vehicle, lives hundreds of miles away, and simply cannot afford the trip, a visit via video would be welcomed. But advocates always envisioned a choice for families with incarcerated loved ones as to whether or not they would make those sacrifices in order to support them – a choice that should be left in the hands of those with the most stake in the matter. Video-only visitation policies strip away that choice; they are simply another outgrowth of the idea that offering services to prisoners and their families can be commercialized" (p. 2). Sections of this publication include: introduction—significant expense and skyrocketing costs, disruptions to family bonding, removal of management tool, usage difficulties due to digital divide, and privacy violations; the benefits of in-person prison and jail visitation; growing restrictions on in-person visitation at the county level; whether limiting in-person visitation will decrease violence and contraband—a case study of Travis County, Texas—once in-person visitation was eliminated disciplinary infractions and incidents, inmate-on-inmate assaults, and inmate-on-staff assaults have increased significantly; money, money, money; conclusion; and four recommendations.

Video Visitation Cover