By: Aleksandra Bush
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BRAZOS COUNTY– Across the state of Texas, video visitation in detention centers is up for debate. The new form of communication for inmates is facing three lawsuits and a bill in the Texas Legislature that could potentially remove visitations. Here in Brazos County the detention center is benefiting from the system and is making plans to expand it.
The through the glass telephone meetings seen in movies will be a thing of the past when they are completely replaced with video visitations which will slow down traffic at detention center.
« We had the possibility of different fights, we had commissary being passed, contraband being passed. They would slide it under the door. I mean it could be a difficult situation for any officer,” says Courtney Waller, the detention center’s Quartermaster.
A few years ago the jail began using the videos for their male inmates. The inmate is able to go to a video kiosk inside his dorm and speak with another video user that is at the visitation center part of the jail. The detention center is taking that a step further- offering online visitations so people with internet access no longer have to go to the jail.
« It’s beneficial to the families because someone who can’t travel can use the visitations and it’s also beneficial to someone who lives out of state. It benefits us because we can use it for professional visits. In other words attorneys, parole officers, and probation officers can also use the system,” says Wayne Dicky, the jail administrator.
« I thought it was a great idea, it saves me money and it’s so much more convenient than having to drive over there,” says Amber Rodriguez, an online visitation user.
Inmates were only allowed two free and one for purchase visit at the jail per week, now they still have those visits along with an additional four visits online. The online visitation costs $4 for ten minutes and $10 for twenty five minutes. All personal chats are monitored by jail staff.
The Brazos County Detention Center is adding video visitations to female dorms and they hope to one day use the system in court cases not involving juries.