The Trempealeau County Jail has begun web-based video visitation system.
The Trempealeau County Sheriff’s Office said it’s in an effort to improve safety and security of the jail and serve as a cost saving measure for the county and visitors.
When a family member or friend visits an inmate in Trempealeau County Jail, it's quite the process.
"Normally when an inmate has visitors they are going to come to the window and check in with us then they are going to go over to our visitation room,” said Sarah Machey, a correctional officer with Trempealeau County Jail.
"We have to shuffle inmates back and forth from their cell block, up to the area to where they meet with the visitor,” said Trempealeau County Sheriff Richard Anderson.
However, the visitation system is about to change.
"We decided as a cost saving to the county as well as to the citizens of Trempealeau County or relatives or friends of the inmates, we looked into doing a video-conferencing system for the inmates,” said Anderson.
Instead of visiting through glass, the inmates will use a web-cam stationed in their cell blocks.
"Now they can do it right from their cell,” said Anderson. “The jailer doesn't have to move or shuffle people around."
Plus, the new system will allow family members to visit with inmates from the comfort of their own home.
"If they have a loved one from out of state this is going to be a lot more convenient for them. They don't need to drive an hour for a 15-20 minute visit,” said Machey.
Although this gives more freedom to the visitors, it still remains a controlled environment. The calls will be recorded and visitor's will sign in using their driver’s license number before placing a call.
"It actually has facial recognition on here so it's just going to be zoomed in on the inmate's face and the visitors face so there's no chance of any gang signs or anything inappropriate,” said Machey.
Jail administrators will continue to monitor "no contact" orders between inmates and visitors, but they will be able to cut down on time and man power to facilitate visitations.
With the new web-cam system, Anderson says they will be able expand visitation hours because the jailers won't have to waste time shuffling the inmates back and forth.
Jail administrators hope to have the new system up and running in about a week.
Remote (off-site) visits are scheduled by buying prepaid minutes through the Trempealeau County Sheriff's Office website via Jail.ATM.com. People who want to use this service will have to select Wisconsin, Trempealeau County Jail as the facility and the last name or ID of the inmate they want to schedule a visit with. The cost is $4.95 for 15 minutes of use.
People who want to use the web-based video visitation remotely, you’ll need a web-cam, microphone, DSL/Cable Modem, and high speed Internet.
If you have questions about the jail’s video visitation, call (715) 538-2311 ext. 366 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Family and friends of jail inmates can now schedule on-site visits by calling the jail directly at (715) 538-2311 ext. 452.