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Florida Jail Offers Video Visits to Profiteer More From Prisoner Families

A video visitation system has been installed at Florida’s Charlotte County Jail. Using money from the Inmate Welfare Fund, which is derived from profits from the canteen and other services to prisoners, the jail installed a system that allows virtual visits over the Internet.

The technology is the first of its kind in Florida and was installed by Montgomery Technology, Inc., which hopes it will catch on and generate more business in other jails and prisons.

“If somebody is incarcerated here but their grandma is in Ohio, they can actually visit them in Ohio via their computers,” said Charlotte County Sheriff Bill Cameron, who said his staff will be monitoring the visits to prevent such things as virtual conjugal visits. “My staff will be having a screen that shows all the visits that are going on at any given moment so they can be watching.”

Revenue generated from the video visitation will be split between Montgomery Technology and the Inmate Welfare Fund. The cost to schedule a visit is about $33 – a fairly hefty fee. The jail has also implemented a program that generates revenue by running ads on the video visitation screens while prisoners and their families are waiting to connect. [See: PLN, Jan. 2010, p.22]. A similar program is being considered at the jail in Walton County, Florida.

Sheriff Cameron had previously turned the jail’s retention pond into a catfish hatchery to feed prisoners, and has also set up vegetable and worm gardens to save money. “So far, everything we have tried has been very successful,” said Cameron. “I think [video visits] will be the same.” This is part of the ongoing trend to monetize mass imprisonment and further profit from the poor.

Sources:, Miami Herald

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