In-person Jail Visits in Lexington to End


By Monique Williams

Lexington, S.C. (WOLO) -- Face to face jail visits in Lexington County will soon come to an end. This, as technology takes over. Officials say the change will enhance the time inmates spend with their families. But, not everyone agrees.

Beginning Monday, there will be no more face to face visitation sessions via a glass window at the Lexington Count Detention Center.
Instead, the jail is turning exclusively to video visitation via a web cam, which allows families access to inmates from any location where there is high-speed internet. Officials claim the hi-tech upgrade allows visitation hours to be extended by one hour on weeknights and more frequently on the weekends.

Weekend visitation, for example, will be conducted for inmates in all 14 housing units at the detention center, compared to two housing units inmates currently use for weekend visits.

Change, though, has come with some resistance.

"We've had some inmate grievances, but once we explain everything to them, like this will enhance the amount of time they can spend with their families, that settled down," said jail administrator Major Kevin Jones.

Officials say they noticed how in-person visits through the glass started slipping off, while the video chats increased. This provides more opportunities for a listening ear, they say.

"Inmates who spend time with their family tend to do better during their incarceration," said Jones.

However, not all visitors are happy about it.

"I think it's ridiculous," said Virginia Lynch, who was at the jail visiting an inmate. "It's impersonal and the kids can't see their family."

Nevertheless, law enforcement officials say the pros outweigh the cons, and they have to keep up with the wave of the future. The program is going so well, officials say they plan to add seven more video visitation kiosks in the near future.
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