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Changing Nature of Correctional Visitation Can Video Visitation Provide the Same Benefits as In-Person Visits?

NCJ Number
Corrections Today Dated: September/October 2016 Pages: 22-24
Date Published
September 2016
3 pages
This article examines issues in the use of video technology to facilitate inmate interaction with family and friends and reports on the Vera Institute of Justice's studies of the benefits and costs of a system of video visitation for inmates.
The article first reviews the benefits of inmate contact and interaction with family members and friends in terms of improving custodial behavior and reducing recidivism upon release. Video visitation addresses some of the barriers to such beneficial visitation. Barriers to in-person visitation are travel distances between home communities and prison facilities and the stigma of entering the facility and waiting to be processed through security. This is particularly difficult for children of incarcerated parents. Video visitation has the potential to reduce the impact of these barriers to in-person inmate visitation with family and friends. The Vera Institute is systematically investigating the effectiveness of video technology in four separate studies. The first study will track the implementation of video visitation technology by interviewing correctional staff and administrators, as well as reviewing policy documents to determine the implementation challenges and staffing and resource costs of installing and operating such a visitation system. Other studies will focus on the impact of a video system on visitation patterns, inmate behaviors and attitudes, and family members. A cost-effectiveness analysis will also be conducted.

Date Published: September 1, 2016