Friday, September 1, 2017

Video Chat Price-Gouging Costs Inmates More Than Money
"The more incarcerated people get to visit with their loved ones while they’re serving time, the less likely they are to reoffend later on. Research has repeatedly shown it. Just where video visitation rights fall into that, though, has become a serious point of contention.

Criminal justice reform advocates have vehemently opposed the creep of video-only visitations into American jails and prisons. Video visits, which inmates pay for, often replace in-person visits entirely, while filling the coffers of for-profit vendors and local jails. In fact, one 2015 study by the Prison Policy Initiative found that 74 percent of jails that adopt video visitation have also banned in-person visits. Not only does that rob incarcerated people of the opportunity to see their children and families face to face, but every minute spent on these glitchy systems costs families money they often don’t have.

A new study by the prison reform advocacy group Vera Institute of Justice, though, found that when Washington State’s Department of Corrections introduced supplemental video visitations in 2013, inmates who made video calls actually received more in-person visits. It also found that few people actually used the video system, because of the poor quality of the calls and the exorbitant $12.95 price tag for a 30-minute connection. Taken together, the findings suggest that while video visitation could help recidivism rates among US prisoners, corporate and government greed have hamstrung its positive effects."

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