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Charlotte Talks: Jail Visits Go Digital - And Raise Questions

Flickr / Dave Nakayama

Monday, Feb. 26, 2018

Should jail visits be in-person or by video? In Mecklenburg County, inmates' connections with family are digital-only. Some in the legal community don't like the new approach, but Sheriff Irwin Carmichael says it's effective. Mike Collins hears from both sides.

A growing number of communities, including Mecklenburg County, have replaced face-to-face jail visits with video interactions.

The Mecklenburg sheriff's office implemented video visits in the fall of 2016, following in the path of some neighboring counties.

Inmates are allowed one free video visit per week, and further visits cost money, and the company in charge of the video operations keeps the revenue.

Critics, including Mecklenburg assistant public defender Toussaint Romain, call it an exploitation of poor inmates who lack the means to post bond.

But Sheriff Irwin Carmichael rejects that, and says video visits are more efficient and make jail operations more secure. The sheriff points out more inmate visits have occurred since the switch to digital.


Toussaint Romain, assistant public defender, Mecklenburg County Public Defender's Office (@RomainEsq)

Sheriff Irwin Carmichael, Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office (@MeckSheriff)