Video Visitation Expansion Makes It Harder For Kids To Bond With Their Incarcerated Parents
Posted on 3/9/2017 11:10 AM
For decades, here’s what visits to correctional institutions have been like: families sit across a table from their incarcerated loved ones or behind a pane of Plexiglas looking at and talking to their sons, daughters, mothers or fathers.
Now, increasingly across the nation, the scene looks more like this: families sit in a windowless booth just past the jail's front door or in another building, hold a phone to their ears, and wait for their incarcerated loved ones to show up on a little screen.
This type of visitation is on its way to becoming the new normal in jails and institutions as in-person visits are fast disappearing.
According to the Prison Policy Initiative, more than 500 correctional facilities around the country have some form of video visitation. And the numbers are going up fast.
There’s several reasons behind this expansion. For corrections officials, one advantage is less worry about contraband coming in, which means fewer inmate strip searches, which means less staff time.
The other advantage: correctional departments stand to make a profit, in many cases, by adopting this type of visitation. If families do a video visit at the correctional institution, it's free, but if they do it from their home computer, it can cost $1 per minute or more.
In reviewing the video visitation systems around the nation, Prison Policy Initiative determined:
“The for-profit video visitation industry has been quietly sweeping the nation's state prisons and county jails. Unfortunately, in order to stimulate demand for their low-quality product, jails and video visitation companies often work together to shut down traditional in-person visitation rooms and instead require families to pay up to $1.50 per minute for visits via computer screen. With some notable exceptions, video visitation technology is poorly designed, does not work well, and makes a trying time for families even more challenging.”
For us at Children of Inmates, we focus on children and on the importance of them bonding regularly with their incarcerated parents. That involves human contact during visitation, being able to look into the eyes of their fathers or mothers, to touch them, to laugh with them, to tell them in person how they are doing at school.
This is all part of mitigating the trauma of separating from their loves one and knowing where their parents are and that they are safe. Children need to be in touch with their incarcerated parents to help them heal -- and prevent PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) from setting in.
The expansion of video visitations reduces human contact and makes it harder for our children to connect with their parents.