Jails implement video conferencing to minimize risks related to personal contact

Tuesday, November 29 2011

County jails in New York, Tennessee and other states are implementing video conferencing services as inmates' main method of communication. Their visitors, attorneys, and members of the court room will interact with them through online meetings, ultimately reducing the inmates' personal contact and possible transfer of illicit materials.

The ability to record calls through video conferencing software can help jails that may choose to implement the service. A Tennessee sheriff stated the benefits of recording and storing video conferences during visits with inmates and visitors, claiming that the footage could be used as a monitoring or even investigative tool when needed.

Some video conferencing services such as MegaMeeting allow the recording feature as optional, so in the event that a conversation should be kept private - for instance, between an inmate and his lawyer - individuals can disable the feature.

The function can also help parole officers with prisoners at jails across the state make appearances in court through the web-based conferencing service. The reduction in travel costs has greatly impacted states such as Michigan, according to a report published by Government Technology. In some more severe cases in which witnesses are victims of rape or assault, they can check in to the courtroom via internet instead of facing their predator in person.