SHERIFF ANNOUNCES INMATE VIDEO VISITS.
Erie County Sheriff Timothy B. Howard announced today the Erie County Holding Center and correctional facility have launched inmate video visitations.
Last year, Sheriff Howard and the County signed a new agreement with IC Solutions to provide telephone services for inmates and part of the new agreement included installation of video kiosks in housing units and the lobbies of both facilities. The innovative technology enables a family member or friend to schedule a video visit 24-hour in advance then inmate will receive notification of the scheduled visit and can accept or decline the invitation. The video visitation offers families, friends and professional visitors the choice to visit an inmate from their home or office and they can access the program through www.icsolutions.com or the ICS mobile app available in Google Play. Visitors can register on the website and create a video visitation account then the visitor can schedule a video session with an inmate. The fee for the video service is $12.50 per call, and the visit can last up to twenty-five minutes. Sheriff Howard explains, “Visits from family and friends are a great emotional lift for inmates, and if a loved one cannot visit for one reason or another, this provides the virtual face-to-face visit with the inmate. Just think of how uplifting a visit with family can be, and this new program can allow an inmate to visit with the entire family without them ever leaving their house.” The Sheriff’s Office had a week long test and sign up period that started last week and did not encounter any major problems. In the week since initializing the service, 75 friends and family members created an account to utilize video visitation. Visitors can set up one video visit per day and is available seven days a week, even if the facilities are closed. Individuals who register with the service can check availability online and schedule the video call 24-hours in advance. “By the time someone gets the kids ready, travel to the facility and pays for parking, the video option can be much easier and less expensive,” said Sheriff Howard. “Also if the inmate is unavailable due to a court appearance, the visitor will get a refund for the video visit; they won’t get a refund for their parking fee.” In addition to better behaving inmates, this new technology will reduce the number of attempts to smuggle contraband into the facilities.