Video Conferencing Eyed for Jail Visitation

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Florence, Ala. (WHNT) – Six days a week, jailors at the Lauderdale County Detention Center spend their time walking inmates to and from visitation areas to see loved ones.


Huddled around a computer screen Monday moring, administrators of the detention center show off the latest in jail visitations.


Jail Administrator Jackie Keenum says the proposed system for the jail uses video conferencing technology; think of it much like Skype or Facetime.


“This way they can visit from home, if you have a computer at home you can log in to the website,” says Keenum. You can visit as many times as you want to.”


As things are now, jailors must go to the cells to get inmates, escort them to the visiting room, and then escort them back when their time is up.


Keenum says with more than 200 inmates at any given time, resources get stretched.


“It’s a lot of man hours, it’s a lot of having people on the halls that don’t need to be. You have your maximum security inmates that have to visit to.” 


With the conferencing system, gone are the portals and phones.


From their jail cells, inmates and their families could see each other on screen while talking on a phone.


“If you’re in here and you have babies, or a new baby, you don’t get to see them. A lot of people don’t care about that, but if you’re in jail you do and if you’re a family member you do,” explained Jackie Keenum.


If implemented, the jail would provide computers for visitors who don’t have one at home.


The cost of the video conferencing project could run upwards of one hundred thousand dollars.


Jail administrators say there would be a charge for family members to access the service.

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