Defend Full In-Person Visitation at the Durham Jail
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The Durham County Sheriff’s Department is threatening to take away in-person jail visitation and replace it with a glorified phone call. Families would no longer be allowed to visit loved ones on the inside.
Detainees in the Durham jail do not want this system implemented. As is, families are required to show up 30 min in advance for a 20 min visit with plexiglass between them and their loved ones. The visits are cumbersome to schedule, especially for those who do not have internet access. The video system will require visitors to be physically present in the jail, and if/when external visits are permitted, it will cost visitors 20 cents to a dollar per minute – contributing to both the isolation and financial exploitation of detainees and their families.
Video visitation is dehumanizing and further isolates those on the inside from family, loved ones, clergy, and mentors. It negatively impacts mental health and makes it even more difficult for families to evaluate the status and well-being of detainees. 74 percent of jails using video-visitation have eliminated in-person visits, and the Durham jail is likely to follow suit (Prison Policy Initiative, 2015).
The county commissioners funds the jail, and the county approved a contract with GlobalTel the commissioners did not read. We the undersigned demand that the Sheriff and Durham County Commission do all that is necessary to ensure:
- That there is no reduction in in-person visitation for any trial of video-”visitation”.
- That glorified video-calls do not come to replace in any way in-person visitation.
- That all video visitation equipment currently installed in the lobby be removed and no new equipment added.
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