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SPOTLIGHT
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Detention center unveils online visitation system

Published on -6/10/2013, 9:48 AM

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Special to The Hays Daily News

WaKEENEY -- Sheriff Richard Hanks announced the Trego County jail is launching a new inmate video visitation program.

On May 7, the new HomeWAV system was brought to the facility to allow family members and friends to schedule and conduct video visits with jail inmates using any suitable computer connected to the Internet. The new visitation system will expand available visitation hours, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"Video visitation is the wave of the future for correctional facility visiting," Hanks said, "and Trego County is proud to offer direct video visitation to our inmates and their loved ones."

The Trego County jail has installed the HomeWAV visitation stations -- consisting of a telephone handset, keypad, webcam, PC and video monitor -- in day rooms for the inmates. The new visitation system gives the jail complete control of visits at all times with live monitoring, recording of all calls and database access to visitation records.

HomeWAV is a video visitation system that allows family and friends to enjoy direct real-time video visits with an inmate from the comfort of their own home. For visitors, the process works just like a phone call except a computer with a webcam and Internet access is required. The cost to the visitor is only $0.50 per minute -- typically less than a collect phone call, and unlike other visitation systems, since no jail personnel are involved in connecting the visit, there is no need to schedule visits in advance.

Hanks said there is no cost to the jail or to taxpayers for the equipment, or installation, and maintenance is covered at no charge for the life of the contract. In fact, the system is expected to greatly reduce overall personnel costs for the jail by making the visitation process simpler and safer for all involved, he noted.

Hanks said after doing extensive testing and evaluation, the HomeWAV system was selected for its all-embracing features and ease of use.

"The new system presents tremendous advantages in time and cost savings, as well as contributing to increased safety and security for our facility," he said.

According to Hanks, early feedback from both inmates and visitors has been positive.

"Our inmates feel more connected to their homes and families, and this has a positive impact on morale and behavior," Hanks said.

"Let's face it -- visiting a loved one in an institutional environment, with the inherent security requirements, can be an unpleasant experience for anyone, especially children," Hanks said. "With this new system, family members are spared the expense, inconvenience and emotional distress of coming into the jail to visit."

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