#inSecurus

Jan 14, 2016
/
San Marcos Daily Record

Film slams ‘video visitation’ in county jails

Recent winners of The Austin Chronicle’s prestigious “2015 Critics’ Picks Award” – an honor also bestowed on a few San Marcos institutions, including Bower Bird and Centro Cultural Hispano – will comprise a panel at the sneak preview of a hard-hitting documentary to close the “Imposed Separateness” film series.

Chief organizers of Grassroots Leadership, a social-justice advocacy group based in Austin, will speak following the special screening of “(In)Securus Technologies: An Assault on the Rights of Prisoners” on Thursday, starting at 6:30 p.m., in the basement chapel of the San Marcos Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 604 N. Guadalupe St.

The film, due to officially premiere in Austin in the coming weeks, documents the societal impact of a new trend in Texas county jails including Hays County: elimination of in-person visitation, replaced by so-called “video visitation.” Read more about Film slams ‘video visitation’ in county jails

Dec 20, 2015
/
San Antonio Express

Scheduled jail visits could address most Bexar issues

Advocates of jail visitation believe that incarcerated people should be allowed to maintain “in-person” contact between themselves and their loved ones.

Bexar County has proposed to eliminate in-person visitation at the Bexar County Detention Center. The alternative is to provide “video visitation” instead.

There is an organizing effort underway to keep in-person visits at BCDC. This effort began 17 months ago when Margarita McAuliffe, founder and lead organizer with Mothers Act for Criminal Justice Reforms, reached out to Diana Claitor with the Texas Jail Project and began working with other groups such as Grassroots Leadership, based in Austin. They have been working since early 2014 to restore in-person visitation at theTravis County Jail. Read more about Scheduled jail visits could address most Bexar issues

Sep 30, 2015
/
Austin Monitor

County approves budget, restores jail visitations

Indeed, the most significant public engagement during the budget process came last week at the first of two special hearings on the proposed tax rate. But instead of raising hackles about high taxes, the handful of speakers at the hearing urged the commissioners to restore in-person visits for inmates at county jails. Under the current policy enacted by Sheriff Greg Hamilton, most inmates can interact with friends and family only remotely through a video chat interface.

Last week’s effort, organized by the prison reform group Grassroots Leadership, turned out to be a testament to the power of democratic participation. County Judge Sarah Eckhardt responded to their activism by putting the issue on Tuesday’s agenda, and staff came prepared with two options for covering the cost of restoring in-person visits. ...

“At the end of the day, we accomplished what we wanted to accomplish,” Lauren Johnson of Grassroots Leadership told the Austin Monitor. But, she added, Travis isn’t the only county keeping its inmates from sharing face-to-face contact with loved ones. “We’ll spend the day celebrating and then get back to work tomorrow to figure out which county we go to next.”

  Read more about County approves budget, restores jail visitations

Sep 29, 2015
/
Austin American-Statesman

Travis County OKs $951 million budget, in-person jail visits

The sheriff’s office will hire 14 new employees to staff the visiting rooms, which are scheduled to open in April. The money will come primarily from savings in the sheriff’s office overtime budget, not new spending.

That funding arrangement solved a political problem that caused a similar measure to be defeated this month. Wanting to keep the county’s tax rate low enough for the average homeowner to see a cut in their tax bill next year, the commissioners on Sept. 9 voted 4-1 against a $1.1 million measure that would have increased the county’s budget for next year.

After that vote, County Judge Sarah Eckhardt, who was on the losing side, directed staff to look for budget-neutral solutions. At the same time, the nonprofit group Grassroots Leadership, which opposes the privatization of prison services, questioned the Texas Commission on Jail Standards on why it exempted Travis County from a new state law requiring jails to allow inmates to have up to two face-to-face visits per week.

Initially, the commission had ruled that the county was exempt because it had already spent a significant amount of money on the video system. Grassroots, however, pointed out that the funding came from the vendor, Securus Technologies, and not the taxpayers. The jail commission still has not made a ruling on whether it will remove the county’s exemption, but Eckhardt said she has been told that it would be satisfied with the new plan. Read more about Travis County OKs $951 million budget, in-person jail visits

Sep 23, 2015
/
Austin Monitor

Jail visitation dominates county budget hearing

Travis County Commissioners Court held its first of three public hearings on the proposed tax rate for the next fiscal year on Tuesday evening, but instead of anxious property owners venting about affordability concerns, a determined group of inmates’ rights advocates dominated the proceedings.

...

After her presentation, the first of a series of activists organized by Austin-based prison reform group Grassroots Leadership approached the dais and called for the return of in-person visitation at Travis County jails. Under the current policy instituted by Sheriff Greg Hamilton, most inmates are able to visit with friends and family only through a video-chat interface.
After her presentation, the first of a series of activists organized by Austin-based prison reform group Grassroots Leadership approached the dais and called for the return of in-person visitation at Travis County jails. Under the current policy instituted by Sheriff Greg Hamilton, most inmates are able to visit with friends and family only through a video-chat interface. - See more at: http://www.austinmonitor.com/stories/2015/09/jail-visitation-dominates-county-budget-hearing/#sthash.EBYpa6NQ.dpufAfter her presentation, the first of a series of activists organized by Austin-based prison reform group Grassroots Leadership approached the dais and called for the return of in-person visitation at Travis County jails. Under the current policy instituted by Sheriff Greg Hamilton, most inmates are able to visit with friends and family only through a video-chat interface. - See more at: http://www.austinmonitor.com/stories/2015/09/jail-visitation-dominates-county-budget-hearing/#sthash.EBYpa6NQ.dpuf

After her presentation, the first of a series of activists organized by Austin-based prison reform group Grassroots Leadership approached the dais and called for the return of in-person visitation at Travis County jails. Under the current policy instituted by Sheriff Greg Hamilton, most inmates are able to visit with friends and family only through a video-chat interface.

Several of the speakers, including Doug Smith of the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, gave emotional testimony that reflected their personal experiences as inmates or family of inmates.

- See more at: http://www.austinmonitor.com/stories/2015/09/jail-visitation-dominates-county-budget-hearing/#sthash.EBYpa6NQ.dpuf

After her presentation, the first of a series of activists organized by Austin-based prison reform group Grassroots Leadership approached the dais and called for the return of in-person visitation at Travis County jails. Under the current policy instituted by Sheriff Greg Hamilton, most inmates are able to visit with friends and family only through a video-chat interface.

Several of the speakers, including Doug Smith of the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, gave emotional testimony that reflected their personal experiences as inmates or family of inmates.

- See more at: http://www.austinmonitor.com/stories/2015/09/jail-visitation-dominates-county-budget-hearing/#sthash.EBYpa6NQ.dpuf
Read more about Jail visitation dominates county budget hearing

OITNB visitation room vs. reality: #PrisonSkype

At Litchfield, Piper and the women with whom she is incarcerated receive many visitors throughout the Orange is the New Black (OITNB) series.  Some people visit with friends and family, including their children, and others receive visits from charitable organizations, pen pals, and sometimes even strangers.  What’s common about all of the visits portrayed in the show are that they happen in a room where the women  and their visitors sit across from one another at tables with nothing in between them.  In prison policy speak this is referred to as “a contact visit.”  Although the degree of permissible contact is limited, which we see as Litchfield’s correctional officers intervene when (in their judgement) a boundary has been crossed, the women and their visitors experience an interaction on par with that of two people sitting across a kitchen table.   Read more about OITNB visitation room vs. reality: #PrisonSkype;

Securus Myth Vs. Fact Analysis Part 2

In this series we are examining the latest in public relations and marketing tactics from Securus Technologies, which details their version of myths and facts surrounding their video visitation product from their perspective. In the last installment we looked at their cost analysis of remote video visitation compared to traveling to the facility and our analysis showed that either way, families pay. In this installment we look at their next two statements: Read more about Securus Myth Vs. Fact Analysis Part 2

May 13, 2015
/
The Texas Observer

Lawmakers Could Slow Spread of Video-Only Jail Visitations

Prison phone service companies like Dallas-based Securus Technologies, Inc. have found a new way to profit from their captive audience: video visitation systems. In the last two years, at least 25 county jails in Texas have installed video terminals that allow inmates to chat with friends, family and others on the outside. Like the phone systems, the cost of using the service is steep: up to $1 per minute for a Skype-like chat, not including usage fees and taxes. But the real kicker is that in many cases the video systems are replacing in-person visits.

...

Grassroots Leadership has been trying to get in-person visitations restored at the Travis County Jail for almost two years. The group was alerted to the situation there after the Texas Civil Rights Project filed a lawsuit against Securus and the Travis County Sheriff’s Office for allegedly unlawfully recording the video chats. Another lawsuit was filed in March on behalf of Derrick Matthew Rice, a 29-year-old inmate at the Denton County Jail, against Securus, the Denton County Sheriff’s Office, and the Texas Commission on Jail Standards. The suit claims that eliminating in-person visits is a violation of what’s already stipulated in jail standards. Read more about Lawmakers Could Slow Spread of Video-Only Jail Visitations

Subscribe to RSS - #inSecurus