Video visitation has been making the news a lot lately. One topic we’ve seen in the headlines is some debate over detention facilities using video visitation systems to completely replace in-person, face-to-face visitation. As with just about any topic these days, both sides have raised many good points, some less-good points, and a lot of strong opinions.
All the back-and-forth has led to some confusion about video visitation technology, and we’d like to help set the record straight.
First, it is important to understand that not all video visitation systems are the same. There are multiple types of solutions available from multiple technology providers, each with its own variable features, deployment options, and terms of service. Some providers have designed their products and terms with a focus on eliminating in-person visitation, its costs, and its risks altogether. Others have positioned their solution as an add-on to traditional on-site visits, or to expand visitation and its benefits to both facilities and inmates. Still others fall somewhere in between, or accommodate both sides.
It is also true that different facilities, and even different areas within those facilities, may have wildly different visitation and technology needs. A state prison, for example, might be run very differently than a rural county jail. Throw in varying population makeups, individual facilities’ histories, and fluctuating budgets, and it becomes clear that the corrections industry isn’t a landscape you can paint with broad strokes; it’s as diverse a mosaic as the communities it serves.
Location matters a lot, too. Some states and counties have started changing their policies regarding inmate visitations. California is a prime example. Through recent changes such as Title 15, facilities that offered in-person visits as of January 1, 2017 are prohibited from converting to video-only visitation in the future. When visitors travel to jails and visit over video monitors instead of face-to-face, there can be no charge for the first hour. Any new facilities built in the future are also required to include space for face-to-face visits. This has caused some big shake-ups and headaches at the facilities that were going video-only, or required to do so by their chosen technology provider.
This all adds up to some simple facts:
Considering the facts, HomeWAV leaves the implementation decisions in the hands of the people who we believe are most qualified to make it – communities and correctional facilities themselves. We have designed our best-of-both-worlds system with the flexibility to adapt to many detention environments and needs, and our customers appreciate that.
Need to to reduce prisoner transport costs and security risks? We can do that.
Looking to add tele-psychiatry, attorney visits, or clergy visits for inmates? We can do that, too.
Want to expand visiting hours to better accommodate a growing inmate population? We’ve got it covered.
No matter how you choose to implement it, HomeWAV technology can save your facility valuable time, money, and risk on inmate visitation and communications. Our patented inmate-initiated visit option even eliminates the burden of scheduling, letting you save even more.
Is eliminating in-person visitation completely a good or bad idea? We wish we had the final answer, but as a technology company, it just isn’t our call to make. What we do know is that we’ve seen both approaches work and deliver positive results.
If you’ve looked at another video visitation solution and didn’t like what you saw, or felt boxed-in or shut-out by its requirements, we urge you to take a look at another option before giving up on the technology completely. HomeWAV does things differently than other systems, and we’re often a fit where others have failed.