New York sheriff’s office starts new ‘video’ visiting program for inmates, families

MAYVILLE, N.Y. (WIVB) – The Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office has come up with a creative way to expand visiting hours at the county jail to help meet state requirements.The 300 inmates at the jail now have access to a “Facetime”-like program.

The goal of this program is to help reduce the number of in-person visits and the possibility of contraband being brought in.

For Matthew George getting to watch his 9-year-old daughter Brianna play at his home in Erie, Pennsylvania is priceless. He said, “It makes your time in here much easier a lot less depressing it makes you more connected with the outside and with your family.”

It will cost George’s family, and the rest of the inmates here, about 40 cents a minute. They can book 10 or 25 minute blocks of time 48 hours in advance online. The virtual visitor  use a home computer or smart phone and the inmates sit at a kiosk to chat.

George said, “It’s convenient because they can use it from the home. They don’t have to travel, they don’t have to pay for gas.”

Sheriff Joseph Gerace calls this a win- win. He hopes this will reduce problems on the inside. The virtual visits are monitored and through this he hopes less contraband gets into the jail. Gerace said, “New York State allows contact visitation in jail so they can touch the inmates. Believe me, that is a very high probability that they are going to try to pass contraband during that swift kiss. We’ve had people attempt to bring every substance you can think of.”

Inmates’ Attorneys can call for free- as often as they’d like. The program is paid for through a state grant and the Jails telephone provider.

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