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

Accession Number: 
031368
Document
Video Visitation Cover

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.