The Calhoun County jail has moved to a video-only format for family visits. The policy affects immigrant detainees awaiting deportation as well as regular inmates. The new policy is a bonus for inmates whose families are far away, but it replaces any regular face-to-face family contact.
Sheriff Matthew Saxton says he decided to make the switch for security reasons, and to give inmates more options for family visits. He says under the previous in-person visit system, inmates were limited to visitors one day a week. The new video system allows visits seven days a week, but it replaces the previous system.
Visitors can use a kiosk at the jail, or log on from home. "An in-person (video) visit here at the facility there is no cost, but if they want to stay at their home and visit from their home, there is a cost for the visit," says Saxton.
According to Saxton, face-to-face visits are still possible, but he didn't specify the circumstances or procedures for inmates to request such a visit.
The jail houses immigrant detainees under a contract with U.S. Immigrations and Customs enforcement.
Saxton says he doesn't know how many ICE detainees are currently in the jail.