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Bristol County Jail To Replace In-Person Visits With Video Chats

BOSTON (CBS) - The Bristol County House of Corrections will soon replace in person visitations for prisoners with video chats.

In about three weeks, friends and loved ones will be brought to a trailer outside the secure jail facility where they can talk to inmates on a phone and see their faces on a video screen.

Video chat
Video chat screens in trailer at Bristol County Jail (WBZ-TV)

The jail already does not allow contact during visitations. A piece of plexi-glass separates visitors from inmates. But, a jail spokesperson says, somehow, contraband still gets through.

"Inmates and the people on the outside, they all day to plan how to get things into jail," spokesperson Jonathan Darling said, "We've seen visitors come in with Suboxone strips under a Band-Aid and then stick the Band-Aid under the counter of the visitor room, hoping that an inmate worker will come through and pick it up."

Bristol County House of Corrections (WBZ-TV)

The ACLU released a statement calling the policy cruel.

"As any Skype user can tell you, video communication may provide a benefit to people who are far apart or unable to travel, but it's no substitute for being in the same room with a person you love," the statement read.

With more than 500 facilities across the country experimenting with video visitation, according to the Prison Policy Initiative, Darling says the move is common sense.

"There hasn't been person to person contact with visits in almost 20 years," Darling said.

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