JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) – Inmates in Jackson County could soon have a new connection to the outside world.
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners will vote on a new video visitation system for the county jail Tuesday night.
Visiting an inmate at the Jackson County jail’s downtown location is not easy.
“Extremely labor intensive, and it’s not very accessible to handicap individuals,” said Sheriff Steven Rand.
Visitors enter through an alley, climb several flights of stairs, and sit in cramped visiting booths.
Sheriff Rand says a video visitation system that the county board is voting on will alleviate this problem.
“Multiple hours a day, probably as many as 12-15 hours per day that you might have an opportunity to conduct a video visit,” Sheriff Rand said.
For a free video meeting, visitors will go to the jail’s Chanter Road location to be connected with inmates at both facilities.
With the new video system in place, visitors could avoid going to the county jail altogether and see inmates from anywhere using a video chat feature on a computer or smartphone.
Loved ones will have to pay for that bonus service, costing $5 for every 20 minutes of video time.
Fees are subject to change and are set to increase every six months.
“We will have availability of recording the conversations. If there are violations, or they’re doing anything inappropriate, we will restrict their access,” Sheriff Rand said.
Taxpayers in Jackson County won’t be paying the video system.
The vendor, which already runs the jail’s phone system, is providing it for free.
The sheriff says the vendor hopes to be reimbursed through charges from mobile video visitations.
He believes the proposed video visitation system will be a more convenient service, and make the jail more secure.
“Anytime you can limit that traffic, you’re saving yourself a lot of headaches and a lot of chances or opportunities for contraband to make it into the facility,” Sheriff Rand said.
If the video system is approved, in person visits will become a rarity.
However, meetings with attorneys and clergy will still be allowed.
The sheriff says it could take nearly a year for the new system to be implemented.