Internet Video Visitation Offers Ideal Complement to Face-to-Face Visitation

For families and correctional facilities alike, internet video visitation is a welcome supplement to traditional methods of visitation in our nation’s correctional facilities

by Brian Deuster – Product Manager – Video Initiatives

Internet video visitation has expanded rapidly through U.S. correctional facilities as a complement to traditional methods of visitation. Products like Skype™ and FaceTime™, have been available to the general public for years, but these types of video communication services present a security challenge for correctional institutions. In response to these concerns, GTL developed secure internet video visitation solutions years ago that are now becoming more and more popular in correctional facilities across the country. Internet video visitation increases the communication options available to inmates and their friends and families and, with security concerns addressed, correctional facility administrators are more at ease about offering it.

The Need for Video Visitation

Numerous studies about the effectiveness of incarceration as a method of rehabilitation have shown that more frequent contact with family and friends can significantly decrease the likelihood that an inmate will reoffend. Federal and state regulations give inmates opportunities to visit with loved ones, but geographical and logistical hurdles often mean that families are not able to see their loved ones on a frequent basis – if at all. As more and more facilities add internet visitation to their visitation offerings, the miles and minutes that keep families from their incarcerated loved ones become less important. Now families that are hundreds of miles away from the prison or jail can visit with inmates from their own homes. There is no need for visitors to travel or go through metal detectors and other security checks. The offender can even stay in touch with family members who cannot or don’t want to come to the jail, including individuals such as children or grandparents.

Internet video visitation is good for inmates and their families, but it also brings benefits in facilities that choose to add it to their visitation offerings. It provides easier access and analysis of data and recordings from visitation sessions and decreases inmate movement because prisoners can have visits from their housing unit.  Internet video visitation can also serve as a reward mechanism because inmates and/or visitors could be restricted access to internet visits due to bad behavior, etc.

Common Misconceptions Regarding Internet Video Visitation

  1. Internet video visitation replaces in-person visitation
  2. As with most companies that are focused on meeting the needs of correctional facilities, inmates, and their families, GTL knows that video visitation on the web is an effective complement to traditional visitation methods. We are trying to fill the gaps left by traditional visitation methods and aim to make communicating with loved ones easier for those that are challenged by distance or time constraints. GTL provides a spectrum of options to facilities that support their visitation needs, policies and realities, rather than dictating the terms of visitation in any specific facility.

  3. Internet video visitation is plagued by technical issues
  4. There is a broad disparity in the level of technology offered by different providers in the industry, but high-quality service providers like Global Tel*Link constantly strive to provide the highest quality service to their customers. We are always improving our technology solutions and with the best practices learned from managing more than 4 million visits annually at over 170 correctional facilities. We are known for our industry-leading video visitation services.

  5. Internet video visitation is less personal than traditional visitation methods
  6. Despite the notion that video visitation is less personal than traditional visitation methods, the technology is similar to Skype™ and Facetime™ – the hugely popular video software products used by people around the globe to stay in touch with loved ones when in-person visits are impossible or inconvenient. Video visitation serves the same purpose and is designed as a supplement to traditional visitation methods, not as a replacement.

I started out in this industry selling video visitation services to correctional facilities, and now am the video product manager at GTL. I enjoy hearing all the stories about inmates who, through internet visitation, are able to attend their child’s birthday party or see the pet they love, all things that are not possible with traditional visitation methods at a correctional facility. Facilities are able to manage who is allowed to visit through the scheduling and management system, having an internet video check-in before the visit, and monitoring the visits as they go on. After the visit they have a recording they can review if there are any suspicions about things said or done during the visit and that improves security in the facility. All of this means that the risks of internet visitation are offset by the benefits. Facilities agree and, these days, when GTL is contracted to provide services to a facility, internet video visitation is usually included in the suite of products we provide.

Want to learn more?

Video visitation is an exciting technology that continues to grow in popularity amongst inmates, families, friends, and correctional facilities.  If you would like to learn more about internet video visitation services, or any other information about GTL’s video visitation programs, please contact us through our web submission page at www.gtl.net/contact-us/.

Last edited 12-12-17

February 11, 2016 / Blog

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Internet Video Visitation Offers Ideal Complement to Face-to-Face Visitation

In the push to reduce the recidivism rate, correctional facilities are moving away from a traditional layout to one that is designed for inclusiveness and keeping inmates engaged with outside society. Studies have shown that maintaining a support structure is a key component to keeping inmates on the right path to successful reintegration into society after release. In Australia, a new maximum security prison opened this year that includes no cells. Instead, inmates are housed in dormitory-style accommodations with 25 inmates in 16 ‘pods’ that offer more access to education, entertainment, and communication with friends and families. This novel move seeks to enhance inmates’ daily lives by making these services more accessible and improve re-integration into society. Inmates have access to technology that connects them with friends and family members, news, books, movies, education, games, and more. They are required to work for up to five hours during the day and pursue education and other programs in the remaining time. This progressive approach aligns with GTL’s vision of technology and education being available to every inmate. “GTL has the technology portfolio to enable correctional facilities to execute their strategies,” said Gad Tobaly, President, GTL International. “Whether those strategies are similar to the open-plan jail approach or focus on a more traditional environment, we offer the innovations to help facilities become safer and more secure while providing inmates with access to programs that improve their lives during and after incarceration.” GTL creates new technologies and advocates for tablets, education, and other programs to help reduce recidivism rates. “These new facilities highlight the need for technology in corrections,” said Eric Gonzalez, Executive Director, Technology and Implementation Services. “Today’s inmates are digital natives, having grown up in the age of computers, cell phones, tablets, and more. It is only logical that providing them with technology and programs to learn and better themselves through those access points is the direction that corrections is taking.” As part of GTL’s ongoing mission to keep our offerings in line with global corrections trends, the company will once again be a sponsor at the International Corrections & Prisons Association (ICPA) Annual Conference. This year’s conference is being held at the Montreal Marriott Chateau Champlain in Montreal, Canada. The conference theme of “Beyond Prisons: The Way Forward” will draw discussion on the underpinning philosophies, strategic direction, policies, and practices being instituted across the globe. More than 500 delegates from over 70 countries attend this prestigious conference. GTL and two collaborating organizations will present on two topics that relate to the use of technology in aiding the corrections and criminal justice systems. “Transforming the Inmate Environment: How and Why Facilities are Implementing Tablet Programs” will discuss how technology is used to humanize correctional efforts and will take place on Tuesday, October 23rd at 11:00 a.m. in Maisonneuve A Room. “Virtual-Enabled Justice: Delivering Swifter Outcomes and Improved Victim and Witness Experience” will discuss the use of technology to create ‘virtual courts’ that fuel efficiency, safety, and security, and will take place on Tuesday, October 23rd at 3:30 p.m. in Maisonneuve A Room. To learn more about our technology solutions, contact GTL today.