Mayor Vincent C. Gray today announced that the DC Department of Corrections (DOC) has moved forward with implementation of a pioneering model for inmate visitation via video conferencing. This technology connects inmates housed at the DC Jail with their visitors via the department’s state-of-the-art Video Visitation Center, located within the DC General Hospital complex.
“I’m excited to announce this new visitation technology, because it will significantly streamline visitor check-in, improve the management of inmate visitation and improve safety and accessibility for family members and friends,” said Mayor Gray. “It’s the right solution for our visitors, incarcerated persons and staff members at the DC Jail.”
The Department of Corrections’ implementation of video visitation is supported by a strong working partnership with Global Tel*Link (GTL), their current provider of inmate telephone service. GTL understands the District is a unique jurisdiction, but one that can benefit from the video-visitation technology the firm has implemented in large and small jails across the country. It allows for an increased number of daily visits (DOC will be able to double visits from 200 to 400 per day using the technology), reduces congestion and long lines for visitors, eliminates the need for invasive security measures (such as pat-downs and frisking) and cuts down on security-related and staffing costs.
The DC Jail’s new Video Visitation Center is set go live on July 25th.
This project has involved renovation of space in the DC General Hospital complex along with the installation of 108 video units and the supporting infrastructure (including 54 units for visitor use at the Video Visitation Center and 54 in the jail’s housing units, where inmates will access the system). The new video-conferencing protocol impacts the social visitation process for all DC Jail inmates as well as juveniles being adjudicated as adults who are in the custody of DOC, but housed separately at the Correctional Treatment Facility. The legal visitation process remains the same, with 24/7 access continuing in the jail.
With video visitation, the entire process – from scheduling to the inmate/visitor connection – is made simple. The public now has the option of scheduling visits by telephone or through a secured website portal, after which they report to the Video Visitation Center on the specified day, confirm their scheduled appointment and begin visiting after being assigned a video station.
DOC Director Thomas Faust is optimistic about the system’s impact in the District of Columbia. “I view implementation of video visitation as another step toward improving operational efficiency within the DC Jail,” he said. “I am also confident that there will be marked improvements in facility security, with diminished opportunities for bringing all forms of contraband in to the facility.”