Commission to Consider Video Visitation

Reported by: Bill Mitchell

Edited by: Harrison Pirtle
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Updated: 1/03 6:35 pm
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WDEF) If Hamilton county commissioners agree, there will soon be a video visitation system in place at the jail.
The sheriff's department laid out the proposal to the county Security and Corrections committee Friday afternoon.
The goal is to make it easier for families to talk one-on-one with any of the 550 inmates, and to make the whole process safer.

MARTY HAYNES, COMMISSIONER "I thought it was an important ..I think it is an important step for the jail."

Commissioner Marty Haynes is chairman of the securities and corrections committee.
The members heard a proposal from Access- of Florida to install 58 computer stations in the jail, and offer families an opportunity to talk with an inmate without leaving home.
It won't cost the county anything up front.

DON GORMAN, DIR.OF ADMINISTRATIONS "The value of the equipment is between 325 and 350-thousand they are planning on making some money on it, and if they make money ,we'll make money."

That on-line visit will cost 60-cents a minute for the inmate or the family, but there's a saving for visitors who don't have to travel or pay parking.
As for the sheriff's department, it's also a safety issue.

ALLEN BRANUM,CHIEF DEPUTY "Our main goal right now is safety of the inmates and the officers without so much movement." "By the time you take however many prisoners up and down the elevators so many times."

GREG BECK, COUNTY COMMISSIONER "I'm all about convenience, I'm all about officers..I worked over there myself and I know what it means to line all those guys up and have to bring them down there ff the floors..that's a dangerous time."

JOE GRAHAM,COUNTY COMMISSIONER "The officer safety, which is probably our number one issue and the scheduling factor..not only eliminates uh-oh's..but it also makes a chaotic thing more organized."

The county will make 30% of whatever EdgeAccess makes and gets to own the equipment after 3 years.

Video visitation is already being used in a dozen other U.S. Cities.
That video visitation proposal will be presented to the entire county commission next Wednesday.

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