When friends and families come to the Lincoln County Jail to visit an inmate, they have to come inside the jail building, be signed in, screened and then wait for an inmate to come to a secure window area. It takes staff time, and time, of course, is money. So Sheriff Dennis Dotson has agreed to set up a financially self-supporting video system that can be accessed from anywhere in the community, including from the inmate’s home, to conduct inmate visits under a secured internet connection. Sheriff Dotson says use of the system will be affordable. He says it should save the sheriff’s office time and money, as well as as for families and friends who sometimes have to drive long distances to visit a friend or loved one being held in the jail. It’s also easier on children who must see someone they love under stressful circumstances that they may not fully understand.
Here’s the news release issued today by Sheriff Dotson:
Beginning December 7th the Lincoln County Jail will launch a test of a new inmate video visitation program. In cooperation with the jail’s commissary company, TurnKey Corrections, inmates will be able to visit with family and friends via a computer video visitation system. Citizens will be able to log into a webpage and arrange to visit an inmate from home or other locations with access to a computer.
The initial operation of the program will be limited to the jail’s minimum security housing unit, A-pod. The program will be conducted for the next few months to identify and resolve any issues with the software and hardware. During this initial period, the video visitation program will be free to our citizens and inmates to encourage their participation in making the program successful.
The goals of the program are to increase inmate access to family and friends, improve the over all security of the jail by reducing civilian access, reduce child exposure to the correctional setting, and improve operational efficiency through reducing inmate and visitor foot traffic and staff time involved in security screening. The system should be financially self-sufficient and will generally not require tax dollars to maintain.
Inmates will be able to remain in their housing units to receive video calls and will use existing kiosks that are equipped with video cameras and handsets. The kiosks, software, and web services are provided by TurnKey Corrections and they will be responsible for maintaining the system.
When the testing period is finished the program will be offered to all inmates for a fee. Citizens will be able to set up an account via a webpage. The cost of the video calls have not been set but will be affordable and certainly beneficial to our citizens as the rising cost of travel is a factor for those who live in areas outside of Newport including other counties and states.
Citizens will register at www.inmatecanteen.com to have visits. Once registered, citizens will request a visit with an inmate. If the inmate is in the dayroom area and eligible to receive a video call, the inmate simply accepts the call. If the inmate is unavailable, the citizen may try again at a later time and will not be charged until the call is accepted. Detailed instructions will be published before the trial begins and will be available at the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office webpage www.lincolncountysheriff.net
For additional information, please contact Sgt. Graham at 541-265-0702.