Video visits for prisoners

Tuesday, November 30 2010

The Correctional Service of Canada is considering the use of video conferencing technology to link Nunavut Inuit prisoners behind bars in southern Canada with their families and loved ones in remote northern communities, reports CBC News.

Nunavut Inuits who are sentenced to prison time are often sent to jails thousands of kilometers away from their homes, often for many years. In response, the correctional system is planning to set up video conferencing technology in northern Canadian communities and at the prisons. One-hour chats would be facilitated by prison staff.

Video conference visits allow inmates' families to connect with their incarcerated loved ones without having to leave home, while also allowing inmates to remain connected to their communities and culture. In addition, video conferencing will be able to connect prisoners with the counselling or psychological services they need.

"When Inuit come from the north to an institution in the Ontario region, it's somewhat of a foreign environment," Jamie Contois, the correctional service's regional administrator for aboriginal initiatives, told CBC News. "Our goal is to rehabilitate, to protect society and to have these Inuit men ultimately return to their communities in a good way."

Canadian prisoners aren't the only institutions trying video conferencing. According to the Corrections Corporation of America, many facilities are using the technology for inmate visitation, psychological consultations, medical visits and court appearances. Video visitations maintain a safe and secure environment, says the organization.