American Correctional Association says that video visitation should not replace in-person visits

We are thrilled to see the ACA support the common sense idea that emerging technologies should supplement, not replace, in person visits.

by Lucius Couloute, April 24, 2017

ACA policy on family-friendly communication and visitationAs we mentioned in our January 2015 report, in four conferences going back to 2001, our nation’s leading professional organization for correctional officials, the American Correctional Association, has consistently declared that “visitation is important” and “reaffirmed its promotion of family-friendly communication policies between offenders and their families.”

Last August, the American Correctional Association went further by explicitly declaring that emerging technologies (like video visitation) should only be used to supplement existing in-person visitation.

The ACA isn’t the only national association to take a stand; the American Bar Association’s standards state that video visitation should not replace in-person visitation.

These resolutions are important because they tell the hundreds of jails that have replaced in-person visits with video visitation that these jails are violating correctional best practices.

Since jails incarcerate people who tend to be extremely poor, video visitation can come at a great cost to their families. At up to $1.50 per minute, a single 15-minute video visit can be the difference between buying a day’s worth of food, or forgoing groceries to speak with a loved one. The American Correctional Association understands this economic reality, urging correctional facilities to “not place unreasonable financial burdens upon the offender or their family and friends.”

As a supplement to in-person visits, video visitation can help connect families who are far apart. We are thrilled to see the ACA include in their Public Correctional Policies the common sense idea that emerging technologies should supplement – not replace – in person visits.

For more information on this issue and to see country wide press coverage, see our report and organizing on the for-profit video visitation industry in prisons and jails.

One response:

  1. Jane Seymour says:

    Video visits suck!!!!!!! My husband is in Southwest Virginia Regional Jail in Duffield, Va. He has been there for 5 months and the ONLY time we have seen each other in person is in a courtroom! The ONLY time we have touched is when we were married at the courthouse. And that was very very limited and brief with him still being in handcuffs and electric belt. Video visitation is the ONLY option at the jail. Inmates are allowed one 15 minute visit per week or pay $7 per 15 minute visit from home computer, who can afford that?! This is Ridiculous! It is no wonder that so many inmates get in trouble while being held in there. The “system” wants inmates to behave and to be “rehabilitated” to be able to rejoin society. Well HELLO!!! if they want people to do that they need to give them a reason to do so. People only change their behavior if the want to do so, they need a good reason. Loved ones, family, wives, children, parents…..these are the reasons people change and the “system” that only allows 15 minutes on a tv screen every week DOES NOT facilitate these relationships or build a solid connection and ties with an inmates home or community. Loving and caring relationships and concrete ties with those people is what will help people change, stay out of trouble and be part of society again. Therefore in person contact visits are VITAL to positive outcomes for these inmates AND their families, especially their marriages and children. Children and spouses need physical contact, that showing of true affection for bonding. Without that the cycle of divorce and children who follow in the parents footsteps right into incarceration will only continue. There will always be people who break the law and deserve to be punished for it but if something, anything can help prevent that then it needs to be done!!! So why eliminate personal contact visits when this could help have such a positive effect on everyone involved? I understand that the security risks are much higher but this will just have to be addressed, used as a tool to manage inmate behaviors. A reward or not. Up to the inmate. Just think of a depressed, angry man who can only sit in his cell 22 hours everyday with nothing to do but think of ways to score some dope or cause mayhem. If he had a visit from his new wife or his daughter to look forward to, where he could have a hug and kiss, being able to look in the eyes of someone he cares so much for and hear “I love you” or “I miss you Dad”. This would make him reconsider breaking the rules, knowing he would be deprived of that visit. Not only that but imagine after that visit what his mood would be like. Happy. Happy people do not cause problems. This all seems so simple to me but I don’t make the rules. These no contact visit rules need to change because with proper security measures of course, there is nothing but GOOD outcomes from allowing inmates to connect and build meaningful relationships with the people that matter most to them!!!!!!

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