NAPA (KCBS)— Inmate visitations at the Napa County Jail entered a new era on Monday with the introduction of a Skype-like video conferencing system aimed at increasing safety.
The jail is phasing out the traditional method of inmate visits and allows two people to interact using a computer screen. Napa County Department of Corrections Director Lenard Vare said eventually video conferencing will replace the traditional telephone hand-set discussions and that the new way allows more flexibility in how inmates and their loved ones communicate.
However, some things won’t change.
“Video-audio interaction is recorded. There’s a warning ribbon that floats across the screen that tells them that this is a recorded conversation,” Vare said.
Distance, disability or transportation issues will no longer hinder communication with someone who is locked up according to Vare. The system will also enhance inmate safety because jailers won’t have to work so hard to keep some inmates apart during visitations.
“It’s very time consuming and it creates many concerns with safety and security,” said Vare.
Inmates can access video terminals in their housing units so they don’t have to be moved to prevent trouble.
Visitors to the jail are given up to an hour of free time on the terminals. After that a fee is assessed. People who communicate from home are charged $20 for 20 minutes.