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Video Conferencing Guide Ezine, Issue #005 -- Video Conferencing in prisons
March 01, 2013

Federal and State prisons look to incorporate video conferencing in prisons.

Can video conferencing really replace prison visits?


Many people believe that Dept. of Corrections are taking a serious look at this for one reason only. That reason is to save money.

On one hand it seems like a new exiting way to see your family and attend parole hearings. However Psychologists believe that it takes away from the rehabilitation process.

It is speculated that an inmates ability to touch, feel, or smell their loved one on a visit helps a considerable amount toward their rehabilitation versus only being able to see them on a screen.

Likewise, a parole officer may be able to read an inmate’s mannerisms and non verbal communication much more effectively versus seeing them on screen display.

The Pros to having video conferencing incorporated in prison are:

  • The family saves money on travel expenses
  • The inmate can most likely see those he wouldn’t have seen otherwise because of the distance
  • The inmate can receive more visits because of the easiness for the family to sit down in front of a screen instead of the risks of heavy traffic
  • Elliminate contraband (illegal substances) being conveyed into prisons by visitors
  • Easier to schedule their parole date in a timely manner (distant travel would be out of the equation)

The Cons to having video conferencing incorporated in prison are

  • Equipment may be more expensive to use versus paying employees
  • Inmates who are serving life sentences may never touch / hug their loved ones again which may lead to increased depression and suicide rates.
  • Misconnection between inmates and visitors because of the eye contact issue with video conferencing.

All prisons aren’t on the same page as far as having video conferencing incorporated in their prison. Pricing, inmate family issues, and contracts are an issue. Nevertheless, prisons are being forced to spend less and save more money. As a result, most prisons have at least looked at the idea.

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