Video Prison Visits Bring Inmates Home

Pioneering program lets loved ones visit jail without leaving home
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 2, 2009 8:59 AM CDT
Candace McCann, an inmate at the Rockville Correctional Facility in Rockville, Ind., talks to her aunt Margaret Earlywine via videolink at a prison kiosk.   (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
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(Newser) – Families can visit incarcerated relatives from the comfort of their living rooms through a first-of-its-kind program in Indiana, the AP reports. Visitors on the approved list are allowed to schedule video conferences with inmates from anywhere they choose. Prisoners use ATM-like machines set up and paid for by a private company; a 30-minute chat costs the prisoner $12.50. More facilities will install the system this year.

Prison officials say that besides allowing visits with relatives who live far away or are too ill to travel, the program makes life easier for guards. "They actually behave better here at the facility," one official says of prisoners permitted virtual family contact. And there's no chance of contraband slipping through. The system isn't without its kinks, however—several visitors and inmates have been banned from using it after officials monitoring the videos caught them exposing themselves.