Sheriff to discontinue video visitation at jail

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 22, 2016

By vershal hogan

The Natchez Democrat

NATCHEZ — Visitation at the Adams County Jail is going from digital to analog.

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Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten said this week that starting April 29 the jail would scrap the Homewav video visitation program in favor of a traditional jail visitation program.

The video visitation system was installed under the former sheriff’s administration in 2013, completely replacing in-person visitation for inmates.

Using the video systems, family members of inmates would install an app on their phone or computer that would allow them to send a message to an inmate in the jail.

The message would register in a terminal in an inmate common area, and upon seeing it the inmate would return the message using the video terminal, allowing what amounted to a video conference between the inmate and his or her visitor.

The video calls were limited to 20 minutes, and came at a cost of 50 cents a minute.

That was a big part of the problem, Patten said, when families couldn’t keep up with the cost of checking in on an incarcerated loved one.

“A lot of people couldn’t afford those calls,” he said. “We know that if someone is in the jail they’ve done something to be there, but I think everybody should have the right to check in on their child (in jail) and make sure they’re OK.”

Visitation will return to the pre-2013 format, with in-person visits across a table with a glass barrier between the inmate and those visiting him or her, Patten said.

The Adams County Sheriff’s Office is also working with the Mississippi Department of Human Services to allow offenders who have shown good behavior a chance to visit with children under the custody of the DHS.

While the visitation policy will require that children be 12 or older during visits, Paten said offenders working with DHS will be granted a special visit with children younger than 12 with a DHS protective service worker or social worker present on Wednesdays.