Jail Switching to Video System for Visiting Inmates

Jail Switching to Video System for Visiting Inmates

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FARMINGTON, Utah (AP) -- Instead of meeting their visitors face-to-face through a glass barrier, Davis County Jail inmates soon will be favcing seeing them over a video system.

County Commissioners on Tuesday approved a $217,000 contract to install video visitation equipment in the jail when a 400-bed expansion opens next fall.

Inmates will have access to visitation stations in their living areas, eliminating the need to transport them through the jail to meet with visitors.

A public lobby will have 25 visitors booths, equipped with a video camera and monitor and a sound system.

Chief Deputy Sheriff Kevin McLeod said video visitation will save on labor costs over the years.

With the addition, the jail will have about 700 visits each week, McLeod said.

Reducing inmate movement also will make the jail safer, he said.

The same system was included in the Cache County Jail, which opened in spring 2004. Lt. Brian Locke, deputy jail commander, said the video equipment is popular with some, but not others.

"As a facility administrator, it works really well," he said. "But the inmates don't like it and the families don't like it. They still want to see each other face-to-face."

But Locke said that inmate concerns aren't paramount.

"We are a jail," he said. "We need to be sensitive to inmates' needs, but also to the public's need, their safety and security needs."

Locke said with the video system more deputies are on the jail floor and visiting hours have expanded to seven days a week and up to 12 hours a day, allowing more visitations to occur.

"That's the biggest benefit," Locke said. "Not everybody was able to get here during the day to visit."

McLeod said he expects that visiting hours will increase at the Davis jail as well.

Conversations over the video system will be monitored and recorded for security purposes.

Future technology may also allow visitations to occur from home through a secure Internet connection, McLeod said.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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