Jail expanding visitation privileges with videolink system

Published 12:13am Thursday, June 20, 2013

NATCHEZ — Inmates in the Adams County jail may soon be able to get a glimpse of home during the day.

But while they’ll be able to see and hear what’s happening at home, they won’t be able to touch and smell it. That’s because home will be visiting inmates via videolink into terminals in the jail’s cellblocks.

Adams County Jail Administrator Capt. Ed Tucker said within the next 60 to 90 days in-person visitation at the jail will be replaced with a web-based service operated by Homwav. The county supervisors approved the contract for the service earlier this week.

Tucker said the equipment will be installed in the jail free of charge, and the video conferencing terminals — which will be located in the day areas of the jail’s cellblocks — will be fee-based, similar to inmate phone services.

The change is being made to accommodate space needs for the jail, Tucker said, and to expand inmate visitation privileges, which are currently limited to immediate family for 30 minutes on Sundays.

“We have limited staff and limited time to get all of the inmates visitation privileges taken care of,” Tucker said. “Now they will be able to visit anywhere in the United States through video terminals, provided their relatives have a computer with a camera at home. It also works on smartphones.”

When the Homwav program is instituted, those who want to visit inmates will need to visit a website and download a software program, Tucker said.

The ACSO will screen who inmates are speaking to through the program.

“We will have a terminal in the control room where they will be able to monitor on a split screen any ongoing conversations and be able to shut it down if there is anything that shouldn’t be going on,” Tucker said. “If there is ever a need for something to be used in court, everything is saved in this system for seven years.”

The jail administrator said the current visitation space would be used for attorney visitation.

“We had to give up the space we were using for attorney visitation when we added our medical services back,” Tucker said. “Right now we are having to move attorneys and other visiting agencies like juvenile detention from room to room as we have space.”

Approximately 30 days before the visitation changeover happens, the jail staff will place information leaflets in the jail lobby to inform all visitors of what is happening, Tucker said.

The jail is also working with several local churches to set up computers in their facilities so those who do not own their own computers will be able to have visitation privileges, he said.