As the holidays approach, more prisoners than ever before will be able to stay in touch with their loved ones. This welcome news comes as no surprise to those inmates and staff who have been lucky enough to see the installation of video visitation systems in their prisons. The net benefits of video visitation to the inmates, families and institutions touched by this game-changing technology are beyond doubt at this point. However, some misguided detractors continue to make false claims regarding Securus’ intentions in the installation and continued development of this crucial innovation in inmate communications.
Yes, video visitation reduces in-person visits. No, it doesn’t eliminate them
A perennial straw man that critics of video visitation love to trot out is that Securus and similar companies have an agenda of eliminating in-person visits that’s motivated by sheer venality and a foul spirit. This ridiculous claim misses on all cylinders. First, Securus has never followed a policy of eliminating in-person visits and has never lobbied to that end. However, many institutions have long recognized in-person visitations as a wellspring of serious problems and a potentially lethal weak link in the institutional chain of security. For those who understand the operation of modern prisons, there simply is no way around this. In-person visitation poses one of the single biggest threats to institutional safety and smooth operations for a multitude of reasons and so prison management has a natural incentive to curtail or eliminate that source of trouble.
Neither Securus, nor penologists, nor any critic can change this institutional reality.
Second, Securus’ video visitation systems have in fact dramatically reduced the use of in-person visitations where installed. This is not some kind of conspiracy, however. The use of in-person visits is driven by organic demand from inmates and their families. Inmates who use video visitation vastly prefer it to in-person visits for a host of reasons. But what’s important to recognize is that this is purely driven by organic demand. The video visitation system is so far superior to traditional visitations that inmates are abandoning the latter in droves and opting instead for the astronomically cheaper, more user-friendly alternative. Just take a look at this video of a holiday video visitation to get an idea of the kind of new communicative possibilities this transformative technology introduces.
Critics like to paint video visitation as a dystopian invention imposed on the inmate population by force. Nothing could be further from the truth. Video visitation has proven its worth in the field, being freely chosen as the favored means of communication by inmates the country over.