Law enforcement officials are revamping the Tippecanoe County jail’s visitation system, beginning next week.
A web portal will allow scheduling of onsite visits with an inmate and a remote visit function, via a Skype-like video feed. A video-chat will cost $4 for ten minutes or $10 for 25 minutes. Visitors can register a “visit” online or via kiosk in the department lobby.
Sheriff Barry Richard says it’s a more efficient way to conduct visitation for all parties.
“If you weigh that against the cost of driving in from Indianapolis, Chicago, flying in from a different state,” Richard says. “It is saving them a tremendous amount of money in being able to visit their loved ones.”
The department has exclusively used video conferencing for conversations with inmates at the county jail since 2004. The number of onsite video visits is set to increase from three to five a week.
But with the implementation of a remote option, sheriff’s department officials predict they’ll see fewer physical visitors.
Tippecanoe Sheriff’s Department Captain Thomas Lehman says the online scheduling system is designed to streamline visitation.
“Right now, we could have a line of 40–60 people that are just waiting at the door at 6 o'clock to come in to start visiting in the evening time. That’s not going to happen anymore,” Lehman says. “They’re already going to be scheduled for their particular time.”
Visits must be scheduled at least 24 hours in advance. After a free-trial week, remote visits will incur a fee and onsite visits in the sheriff’s department will still be free.
Onsite visits will be discontinued from March 5 to 7 while the new equipment is installed. Remote conferences begin March 8.