CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Beginning next week, the Chesterfield County Jail will switch from in-person to video only visitations.
The sheriff’s department says this will ultimately make the jail much safer and make visitation much more convenient. But some visitors aren’t happy with the changes, saying the move will only cut off inmates from their only contact to the outside world.
The switch will go into effect on August 17. It’s a trend seen at jails across the country. The sheriff’s department says visitors will no longer have to wait in lines; they can make an appointment, show up and have their visit right away.
But the department says the biggest benefit will be the safety of deputies.
It’s saving the deputies from having to take 12 or 10 inmates from one housing area down to a visitation area,”Captain Eric Jones explained. “It’s more of a safety aspect for sheriff’s officers, jails in general.”
Captain Jones said visitors can also download an app to an android device and do their visits from home. He says eventually inmates may even get more visitation time.
“After we get it up and running and see everything is running properly and in order, we will look at expanding the hours of visitation,” Captain Jones explained.
8News spoke with two visitors who asked not to be identified. Both are unhappy with the change.
“That’s all they have? I just don’t agree with it,” one of the visitors said.
“Seeing them on a screen, it’s going to be hard,” the other added. “It’s going to be very hard on the inmates.”
They believe it will negatively impact the rehabilitation of inmates.
“I’ve been incarcerated myself, so I understand the face-to-face contact. It plays a big role in rehabilitation.”
But Jones says he doesn’t think that will be an issue.
“I believe that just having your family member there in front of you, whether it’s face-to-face or on video, at least you know they’re OK,” he said.