Comment letter: Maine’s Department of Corrections should not allow correctional facilities to eliminate in-person visitation.
After the Maine DOC solicited comments on the proposed changes to its visitation policies, we submitted a letter detailing why the elimination of in-person visits would hurt families.
by Lucius Couloute, September 7, 2017
Due, in part, to our work on the video calling industry, most policymakers now recognize that in-person jail visits should not be replaced with glitchy, expensive, and impersonal video calls.
In states like Texas, California, and Illinois legislators have made it a point to ensure that incarcerated people get to see their loved ones face-to-face by prohibiting correctional facilities from eliminating in-person visits.
In Maine, however, the Department of Corrections (who holds the authority to set jail standards) is considering a move that would put them at odds with the national consensus: eliminating the requirement that Maine jails provide in-person contact visits, allowing them to instead provide video-only “visits”.
The DOC solicited comments on the proposed changes, so we submitted a letter detailing why the policy change would hurt families. You can read the full text of the letter, above. It concludes:
The DOC, on its own website, states that its mission is to “reduce the likelihood that juvenile and adult offenders will re-offend by providing practices, programs, and services which are evidence based.” Replacing in-person visits with video calling flies in the face of established evidence and punishes the families of incarcerated people who only wish to support their incarcerated loved ones. On behalf of incarcerated people looking to maintain their support systems, and their families, we urge the DOC to maintain in-person visits.
At a recent hearing, over 20 people testified against the proposed changes. We now await the final decision.