CBS News Miami
MIAMI (CBS/AP) There’s still no place like home, but for the prison population, "being there" on the Web is becoming the next best thing. And prison officials say "video-conference visitation" offers benefits for inmates, family, and friends.
Almost every Saturday at 9:30 a.m. Candace McCann, inmate No. 188342, sits down for a scheduled video conference with her daughter.
Seven-year-old Kashmir appears from McCann's aunt's home, three hours away. Sometimes Kashmir draws a picture. Other times she stands on a chair to model an outfit: jeans and a Hannah Montana T-shirt or new shoes. Lately she's been pressing her face close to the camera and opening her mouth, showing off lost teeth.
"I feel like I'm at home, kind of," said McCann, 24, in a video conference interview. "It's good to see that kind of stuff."
Home for McCann right now is a medium-security Indiana prison, where she is serving almost three years for theft and forgery. She has only seen her daughter in person three times in the last year.
But in February, the 1,200 inmates at the prison got the ability to video conference using ATM-like kiosks. Families and friends can talk from the comfort of a home office or an armchair. All they need is a webcam.
Other prisons around the country offer video visits, but families generally have to go to a site like a church to use it. At Indiana's Rockville Correctional Facility, however, once visitors are on an approved list, they can go online from home or elsewhere and schedule and pay for their own visits. Visits cost $12.50 for 30 minutes, less than the approximately $15 the prison charges for a 30-minute local call.
Only the Rockville facility is currently using the system, developed by a Florida company called JPay. But all 28,000 Indiana inmates are expected to have access to the system within the next four years. And all Kansas inmates — just under 9,000 of them — will be able to use it by next year. JPay covers the cost of the kiosks and their installation. The states pay nothing.
Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?
Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.
If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.
Wednesday, July 08, 2009
CBS News Miami