The News Today
__
5.23.19
Poor Substitute

Prisons Are Replacing Visits With Expensive, Grainy Video Calls

April 8th 19__Dan Robitzski__Filed Under: Future Society
Tag Hartman-Simkins

Expensive Convenience

Several American prisons are replacing in-person visitation with video call services.

Now, instead of traveling to a prison to visit an inmate, friends and family will have to pay by the minute to chat via a grainy and outdated video feed, Ars Technica reports. Prisons switching to the service market the service as a convenience, but they stand to profit from a measure that further isolates incarcerated people.

Easy Money

Ars reporter Timothy Lee tried out one of the video call services by chatting with an inmate at Tennessee’s Knox County Jail. The video feed, which cost 19 cents per minute, was far worse than any of the free video chatting services out there, with graininess and lag.

Prisons get a cut of the proceeds, meaning they’re incentivized to replace in-person visits video calls. In Newton County, Missouri, calls cost 40 cents per minute. Other prisons charge even more.

Talking To A Wall

What this all means is that the inmates at these various prisons won’t get to see their loved ones face-to-face until their sentence is over. And claims that the video call is just as good as an in-person visit are inaccurate, inmate Justin Harker told Ars during that video call.

“It’s not the same,” he said.

READ MORE: More jails replace in-person visits with awful video chat products [Ars Technica]

More on prison: A Finnish Startup Is Using Prison Labor to Train AI