Screening Out Family Time: The For-Profit Video Visitation Industry in Prisons and Jails
"Video technology like Skype or FaceTime can be a great way to stay
together for people who are far apart. It is not the same as being there
in person, but it is better than a phone call or sending a letter.
Given that there are 2.2 million people who are incarcerated, often
many hundreds of miles from their homes, it should be no surprise that
prison and jail video visitation is quietly sweeping the nation.
But video visitation is not like Skype or FaceTime. For one, these
well-known technologies are a high-quality, free supplement to time
spent together, in-person. The video visitation that is sweeping through
U.S. jails is almost the exact opposite.
In order to stimulate demand for their low-quality product, jails and
video visitation companies work together to shut down the traditional
in-person visitation rooms and instead require families to pay up to
$1.50 per minute for visits via computer screen."