With technology like Skype and FaceTime, people have more options to connect virtually, and that's exactly what Utah County Jail wanted to do for the friends and family of over 950 inmates.
Amazingly, it all comes at no cost to the taxpayer. The county believes switching from in-person to video visitation will not only save friends and family the time it takes to get to their facility, but also greatly impact related costs such as gas, car rentals, and hotel expenses that are incurred when visiting on site. On average, a family member spends up to $20 in gas plus 2.5 hours of drive time, whereas with the new visitation system, that same visit will cost them under $0.35 per minute when visiting remotely over video.
The mission of the Utah County Sheriff's Office is to professionally and effectively meet its delegated and statutory responsibilities while providing quality protection and services to the citizens of Utah County in a cost effective manner. “Our goal, first and foremost, is to assist the public in being able to communicate with and see their incarcerated loved one with the convenience of doing so without having to drive to the Utah County Jail,” says Chief Deputy Darin Durfey, “Additionally, this technology will help enhance safety and security at our facility by reducing the overall traffic in the waiting area and limiting inmate transportation.”
Utah County’s new technology is powered and operated by their newest provider, Telmate. The inmate communications leader is based out of San Francisco, bringing together innovative technology to detention facilities nationwide while helping families stay connected with incarcerated loved ones. Telmate will be providing phone, email and video visitation to the Utah County Jail, replacing the current communications vendor.
According to Telmate Chief Marketing Officer Jeff Hansen, video visitation is the most efficient means for an inmate’s friends and family members to stay in touch. “Traveling to a facility for an in-person visit can be inconvenient, uncomfortable, and even intimidating especially for small children.” He added, “With remote video visitation, friends and family can say goodbye to long drives, uncomfortable waits and harsh surroundings as they enjoy a more personal visit from the comfort of their own home.”
“It is my hope that this technology will save family and friends valuable time and resources, while assisting them in maintaining close contact through visitation with those they care about while incarcerated in the Utah County Jail” Durfey said. “While there is a cost associated with video visitation, it is my goal to save family and friends money by not having to take time out of their already busy schedules and the added fuel cost of driving to and from the jail,” he explained.
Video visits are a high- quality, safe, and convenient alternative to in-person onsite visits, according to Telmate. “By physically separating inmates from visitors, we’ve removed a key mechanism for importing contraband such as drugs, weapons and SIM cards,” Hansen reports, “thus enhancing security and safety in Utah County.”
Recent studies show that inmates who are connected to the outside world are more likely to refrain from conduct that would cause them to receive disciplinary infractions or jeopardize early release. With Telmate video visitation and other services, inmates are given safe and meaningful tools to stay connected and occupy their time with productive activity, therefore reducing criminal activity all at no cost to taxpayers.
In fact, Telmate customers have reported a noticeable drop in violence for both inmate to inmate and inmate to staff, immediately after video visitation systems were installed. According to Hansen, facilities have been able to sustain a 20% average drop of violent instances per year since installation in the last two years.
About Utah County Sheriff’s Office:
The Utah County Sheriff's Office serves a population of approximately 580,000 residents and covers 2100 square miles. The Sheriff of Utah County is responsible for providing a secure holding facility for persons legally confined in the county. The Utah County Jail provides a secure, humane environment for the incarceration of those persons accused or convicted of violating the law.
Telmate is the third largest and fastest growing inmate communications provider in the United States and is a leader in customer service and cutting edge technologies, including video visitation, secure messages, mobile applications and investigator tools. The Telmate communication system is deployed in over 250 facilities in nearly every U.S. state as well as four Canadian provinces. Telmate is headquartered in San Francisco, California, with an additional office in Ontario, Oregon. To find out more about Telmate, visit www.telmate.com.