Grand Prairie recently became the only city in Texas to offer video call visitations for the inmates in its municipal jail or holding facility.
The four video terminals – supplied by Carrollton-based Securus Technologies – allow inmates to have video chats with family members, friends or their attorneys at a cost of $12.99 for 20 minutes, according to the Securus website.
Up to and including now, people locked up in the Grand Prairie municipal jail have only been allowed in-person visitation from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, and children under the age of 18 were not allowed to participate.
"What we found is that does not really offer enough time or opportunity for the people in custody to have access and support from their friends and family," said Kristin Swanson, Detention Manager for the City of Grand Prairie. "I would say that we are all one bad decision away from being a person sitting in [jail] and that we probably need to do a better job as a society by caring for one another and allowing people to stay connected to their support network.”
Securus is not without its critics, however. The company is one of two major suppliers of video visitation technology in correctional facilities in the United States. Securus technology is charging some of the highest rates, according to a report by the Prison Policy Initiative. It is being used in 3,400 correctional facilities in the country.
In response to negative publicity, Securus has stated that it reduced its rates in many facilities last year, and now charges an average of 15 cents per minute.