Dartmouth jail to switch to video visitations

By Douglas McCulloch | Jul 24, 2017
Courtesy of: Bristol County Sheriff's Office The new video conferencing machines.

Visitors to the Bristol County House of Correction will no longer be able to attend in-person visits with loved ones, as the sheriff’s department moves towards video conferencing to crack down on contraband.

New video conferencing terminals have been installed at a new building located in the jail parking lot, according to Public Information Officer Jonathan Darling. He said they could be operational within a month and will replace the current visitation system at the jail.

Currently, visitors must pass through security and enter the in-person visitation center, where inmates are physically separated from guests with a plexiglass window, and the two parties communicate via a telephone.

Despite the plexiglass window, the jail has had problems with visitors smuggling drugs and other contraband in through the visitation center, Darling said. Visitors hide drugs under band-aids and pass them through the glass, place drugs in walls covered with chipped paint, and leave drugs under tables and shelves.

“We’re keeping visitors away from the secure part of our facility,” Darling said. “In limiting the number of people in the secure part of the facility, it will by default make the facility safer and more secure.”

In the near future, Darling said remote visits will also be offered, allowing family members to video conference over the Internet from home on a compatible device. There will be a fee for that service that has yet to be determined. There is no fee to conduct an on-site visitation using the new machines.

Darling said the change will not affect legal visits by attorneys. Inmates will still be able to meet with attorneys in conference rooms, but they will also have the option to conduct a remote conference using the machines.

The Bristol County Sheriff’s Office abolished contact visitations in the late 1990s. Darling said very few jails in the United States still offer contact visitations.

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