Inmates of the Alachua County will be offered another form of communication in January 2014.
Online video visitation will be a feature for an inmate’s family and friends to communicate with an individual in the facility, similar to Skyping.
The online-video visitation system is being installed using money from the Inmate Welfare Fund and the jail’s general fund.
Alachua County Sheriff, Sadie Darnell, proposed the feature be added to the jail to ensure communication aside from the two hour in-person visitation limit allowed per week.
Online communications will have a charge of 40 cents per minute and inmates will be allowed 40 minutes total per week.
Currently, once their in-person visitation is complete, the inmates are only allowed to make phone calls, which are limited in number and duration.
She said she has seen first hand the negative consequences this rule can have on an inmate who needs to speak to their lawyer or family about a case and cannot disclose personal information over the phone.
“When our family, friends, attorney’s come in and they choose to use a different method because they can’t call into the jail, they have to schedule an on-site visit, an on-site visit through a video video module or this new system”
Sheriff Darnell also says that by allowing inmates to use the internet to video chat will reduce the amount of movement the officers have to make with the inmate in their possession.
This will hopefully reduce the amount of violence, exchange of drugs and other illegal paraphanalia going into the jail through in-person visits.
The Alachua County Sheriff requested that the revenue taken from the Inmate Welfare Fund and the jail’s general fund be replenished as profits are made using the online-video jail visitation system.
The Alachua County Board of Commissioners approved returning the revenue to the Inmate Welfare Program and the general fund.
Commissioner Mike Byerly suggested that the board of commissioners meet again in approximately one year to review where the revenues are coming from and how much they’ve increased or decreased.
“Part two of the motion would be when those funds are returned, that the staff bring this back to the board for reconsideration of the ordinance with the relevant data,” Byerly said.