The Kenosha County Jail and Kenosha County Detention Center are implementing new policies this week. Policies that make perfect sense.
The time is right to eliminate in-person visits and replace them with video visitation at both facilities. Facetime is more popular than calls when keeping in touch with family these days, and everyone has a phone.
It should be a smooth transition for visitors, beginning Wednesday at the jail and Thursday at the detention center. It will cut down on wait time for personal meetings, and reduce staff time involved.
The Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department announced the changes last week, saying there have been complaints about long waits for visitation in the past and video visits will make it easier for families to maintain contact with people in custody.
“Definitely the inmates will have more contact with their friends and family (with the new policy), especially using the off-site visitation,” Sgt. Christopher Hannah said.
Using the system, on-site visits will be free. Off-site visits — connecting from home at pre-scheduled times, similar to Skype — will cost $4 for a 10 minutes and $10 for 25 minutes.
Professional visits, including those from defense attorneys, will still be in person.
Kenosha will join a growing number of jail systems implementing video visitation. As reported, Wanda Bertram of the Prison Policy Initiative said the number of local jails with video visitation is now between 600 and 700 nationally.
Bertram said typical charges for the video visits are 25 to 30 cents a minute, or $7.50 to $9 for a 30-minute visit.
Cost is our main concern over this new policy. While it opens up visitations for out-of-area families, we hope the cost can come down locally.
It’s something to consider moving forward to help families keep in touch with their loved ones. And a lower cost might encourage more video visitations.