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Plans For Jail Visits By Screen Instead Of In-Person

Cabarrus County plans to install a video visitation system in its new jail that will do away with face-to-face visits from friends and family. Right now inmates in Cabarrus County can only receive visitors on the weekend. They're escorted from their cell to a room that looks much like what you'd expect from the movies and crime shows. There's a glass partition and people speak through a telephone. "With the video visitation it's practically the same thing, but they're not physically within five feet of each other," says Deputy Chief Paul Hunt with the Sheriff's office. "It's a real-time video, real-time speaking, so it's like they're right their speaking to you." Hunt says the reason video visitation is so appealing is that it will make it a lot easier on jail staff. Video kiosks will be set up at different spots inside the jail. "It's not like we're having to handcuff 'em and move them somewhere else and having them move a group of them at one time. It helps out with the security of the facility for the officers and the inmates," says Hunt. Visitors will have to report to the jail's administrative office to have a video chat with an inmate. Hunt says the jail will be able to expand visiting hours with the new system. Michele Luecking-Sunman is an attorney with North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services. She understands the rationale behind video visitation, but says there's one big drawback. "It's taking away so much from the men and women housed in North Carolina's jails. They're losing just the physical touch or seeing someone that's sitting across from them," says Luecking-Sunman. She says in the last few years many new jails have started to use the video systems. Cabarrus County's jail is expected to open in July. County Commissioners plan to vote to purchase the video visitation equipment at their meeting March 21st.