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
- Internet video visitation replaces in-person visitation
- Internet video visitation is plagued by technical issues
- Internet video visitation is less personal than traditional visitation methods
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.
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.
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