Jail moves to video visitations with inmates

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

Video visitations have been implemented at the Dubois County Security Center.

They replace the old visitation method, which involved visiting an inmate weekly on a certain day and time that was established by officials.

“You have more freedom in the times that you want to choose to visit,” said Sheriff Tom Kleinhelter. “Most people seem to like the option of visiting their loved ones from the comfort of their homes.”

Combined Public Communications has installed 10 kiosks inside the jail, one in each cell block. Two kiosks are located in the visitation booth for the public to use. The inmates were told of the change early enough to tell their loved ones.

Video visitations started last week. Twenty-minute visits can be set between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. daily, Kleinhelter said.

People wanting to have video visits with an inmate must set up a profile online at inmatesales.com. “That allows us to view you and make sure you meet the requirements for us to allow you to visit inmates,” Kleinhelter said.

Once the profile is approved, the person goes online to set up a video visit and block off a 20-minute time period. The inmate has to check the kiosk to accept the visit. The inmate can ask a person to visit at a certain time, but the visitor is the one who has to establish the day and time, Kleinhelter said.

When the visit request is accepted, that kiosk in the inmate’s cellblock is blocked for that 20-minute period for the visit. “Nobody else in his cellblock can have that time period,” Kleinhelter said. “It’s been booked.”

The visitor can log in from a home computer or smartphone device to conduct the visit. That person will pay 20 cents per minute for that video visit, and can set up an unlimited number of visits, so long as the time period is available, according to information about the kiosks on the Dubois County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.

The visitor can use one of the two kiosks in the visitation booth. That visit would be at no cost to the visitor. Inmates are allowed two, 20-minute visits per week by this method. Those kiosks can be used by visitors between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. daily.

The previous visitation system required people to come to the jail for a 45-minute visit with an inmate using a phone and looking through glass. It was at the same time each week and set by jail officials. The video system replaces that system, Kleinhelter said.

“You have to do video now,” he said. “You can do it here for free. Or you can do it from your home.”

Combined Public Communications paid for installing the system, and it collects the fee from calls done on personal computers and devices. The sheriff’s office gets a small percentage of that, but most of it goes to the company.

Kleinhelter said the video system is not new technology. “It’s something that other jails have been going to,” he said. “We’re probably one of the last counties around doing this.”

He was interested in installing the system to help visitors, Kleinhelter said.

“It was something that I thought would be beneficial to our out-of-state visitors and older generations,” he said. “Sometimes the only ones that visit people in jail now are grandmas and grandpas. This allows them to have a little more freedom on their time, and they don’t have to make that trip, especially in the wintertime. They can still visit their loved ones.”

Out-of-towners are using it as well. “We have a guy in here now who has a loved one in Hawaii,” Kleinhelter said. “They can now visit like they’re just across town versus them never getting to see each other.”

Visit requests are reviewed by jail officials “to make sure you’re not visiting someone who has a protective order against you,” Kleinhelter said, “things like that.”

Jail and company officials can monitor the video visits as they are happening.

A problem they are starting to notice is people conducting video visits on their smartphones while driving.

“If we see anybody driving their vehicles and visiting you, we are going to terminate the visit,” Kleinhelter said. “If we see them using their phone for this while driving, we will end the visit.”

Also, calls will be terminated if there is any nudity or sexual content happening during the video call.

“And they won’t be able to visit anymore,” the sheriff said.

The system is being well utilized, he added. About 80% of the visits are being done through personal devices, according to information Combined Public Communications has shared with Kleinhelter.

“It has drastically reduced the amount of people coming into our lobby,” he said.




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