Virginia Prisons Experiment with Visits by Videoconference
The Richmond Times-Dispatch has this report on a videoconferencing program that allows families to visit virtually with relatives incarcerated in Virginia prisons. Piloted at the Wallens Ridge State Prison, the program will be expanding to nine additional prisons this year and is run at no taxpayer expense by the New Canaan International Church:
The church has been using donated equipment and charging $30 for a one-hour visit and $15 for 30 minutes to help cover the costs.
In a high-security prison such as Wallens Ridge, using a live video connection enables inmates and “visitors” to see and hear one another as well as — if not better than — during in-person visits conducted through clear, but solid, plexiglass windows using phones.
Since starting the program 3½ years ago, New Canaan and two other churches now involved have arranged 650 video visits between Wallens Ridge inmates and their families.
The cost for the video visits is considerably less than that of daylong drives and overnight stays often needed to visit some of Virginia’s more remote, high-security prisons.