video visitation

Sandi Brackeen, a public information officer at the Denton County Sheriff’s Office, uses video visitation at the Mary and Jim Horn Government Center to talk to inmate services instructor Tammy Eppler at the Denton County Jail in 2015 in Denton.

The Denton County Jail is required by contract to ban all in-person visits between its inmates and their families and friends.

Under its contract with Dallas-based video visitation software provider Securus Technologies, the jail is prohibited from allowing the face-to-face visits. The company wants sole rights to the business of communication between inmates and their loved ones; Securus spells that out clearly in its contract with Denton County.

“For all non-professional visitors, Customer will eliminate all face to face visitation through glass or otherwise at the Facility and will utilize video visitation for all non-professional on-site visitors,” the contract states on Page 19.

There are exceptions for the county inmates’ attorneys; they can visit clients in person. Friends and family can schedule online visits, and they can conduct them remotely online or they can conduct them at designated video visitation hubs at one of the county’s facilities.

Securus said in 2014 that it would no longer prohibit in-person visits, but the county jail still upholds the video-only policy.

County officials have maintained that the reason why they ever wanted to include video visitation was to cut down on how often people were using the county’s assets — namely the county buildings and parking lots.

The contract is set to expire at the end of October. The county is taking applicants from other vendors as it looks to continue the video-visitation program.

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