Restore in-person Visitation at the county jail.
This petition had 530 supporters
Just weeks ago, Denton County stopped all in-person visits at the county jail. This is per the terms of their contract with Securus Technologies, a multi-million dollar for-profit corporation. Now loved ones have to see their jailed family member or friend through small terminal screens where choppy video feed or sound often prevails and eye contact is impossible.
Unfortunately this flew under the radar and was passed with little fanfare or attention. However, the citizens of Denton County who are currently using the system are not at all pleased with it. We did some ground research and spoke with those most directly affected. The consensus was unanimous—everyone wants the old system back. Some of the people we spoke with did not even own a computer or know how to operate one.
On location video visits can be scheduled (at least 24 hours in advance), and each inmate is allowed two per week without a fee. But, if a family wants to use the highly-touted feature of visiting from the comfort of their own home, they are charged an introductory fee of $5 per 15 minute call. This introductory fee is set to skyrocket up to the regular price of $15 per 15 minute call. Can you imagine paying one dollar per minute to video visit with your loved one using technology that appears to work even less well than the free program Skype?
There are real security concerns with this technology as well. Securus prides itself on reviewing all footage and turning over anything suspicious to law enforcement for a full investigation. They claim that many crimes are solved each year due to their monitoring. However, what about citizens’ Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination? And what about innocent loved ones on the outside and possibly innocent loved ones on the inside having their privacy invaded with monitoring software that can see into homes, wherever the webcam may be pointed?
Stop this craziness now! Securus relies on the elimination of in-person visitation (a requirement stipulated in their contracts) in order to gain a long-term foothold and secure their dominant position in the market for vulnerable citizens hard-earned money. This is beyond unacceptable. There is no reason Securus should be dictating policy within correctional institutions!
A few notable quotes from Prison Policy Initiative’s Report on Video Visitation (http://www.prisonpolicy.org/visitation/report.html):
“Most families — the end-users of video visitation — are deeply unhappy with the combination of video visitation’s poor quality, the cost of visitation, and the fact that jails often force the service on them.”
“It is more difficult for families to ensure or evaluate the wellbeing of their incarcerated loved ones via video than in-person or through-the-glass. Families struggle to clearly see the incarcerated person with video visits and instead face a pixelated or sometimes frozen image of the incarcerated person. The poor quality of the visits only increases family members’ anxiety.”
“With few exceptions, jail video visitation is a step backward for correctional policy because it eliminates in-person visits that are unquestionably important to rehabilitation while simultaneously making money off of families desperate to stay in touch.”
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