Help Me Make it Easier to Visit Loved Ones In Jail

When my sister began serving a sentence at Illinois' Lake County jail, I wanted to visit her right away. She'd been incarcerated in the past, and visiting her in person was always crucial to maintaining some human connection within an inhumane
system. However, when I looked up visiting information about this jail, I discovered that in-person visits were banned, and all visits were to be conducted via video.
 
Video visitation is an important option for people who can't afford to travel far away to see their loved ones in jail or prison, as well as people with disabilities, illnesses or time commitments that inhibit their travel.

But according to the Prison Policy Initiative, jails are increasingly using video visitation, and, in most cases, replacing in-person visits entirely. Securus, a company providing phone calls and video visitation for jails, actually mandates this ban in some of its contracts. (The company says it will not include this clause in future contracts; whether it will keep that promise remains to be seen.)


Still wanting to support my sister, I reluctantly tried video visitation. When I set up my first video visit with my sister, I ran into multiple problems. Securus' technology failed to connect me with my sister, so I spent the half hour on the phone with tech support instead, crying. I worried my sister would think I'd forgotten about our visit.

Aside from unreliable technology, video visits cost money, and many families go into debt to cover the costs.

But there's some hope. Please sign my petition to ask Congress to pass Congresswoman Duckworth's Video Visitation in Prisons Act, which would require that the Federal Communications Commission ensure that correctional facilities that have video visitation do not ban in-person visits.

Face-to-face visits help people in correctional facilities retain vital ties with loved ones on the outside. Jail and prison, by definition, are places of isolation and disconnection. We cannot allow for the removal of one of the few opportunities for connection -- and one of the few human rights -- granted to people who are locked in cages. 

Please sign my petition to ask Congress to ensure that correctional facilities do not ban in-person visits. 

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Video visitation is an important option for people who can't afford to travel far away to see their loved ones in jail or prison, as well as people with disabilities, illnesses or time commitments that inhibit their travel.


But according to the Prison Policy Initiative, jails are increasingly using video visitation, and, in most cases, replacing in-person visits entirely. Securus, a company providing phone calls and video visitation for jails, actually mandates this ban in some of its contracts. (The company says it will not include this clause in future contracts; whether it will keep that promise remains to be seen.)

Consider Maya Schenwar's story: When she tried to visit her sister at Illinois' Lake County jail, she learned all in-person visits were banned, and all visits were to be conducted via video. When she first set up her first video visit with her sister, she ran into multiple problems. Securus' technology failed to connect her with her sister, so she spent the half hour on the phone with tech support instead, crying. She worried her sister would think she'd forgotten about the visit.


Aside from unreliable technology, video visits cost money, and many families go into debt to cover the costs.



Please pass Congresswoman Duckworth's Video Visitation in Prisons Act, which would require that the Federal Communications Commission ensure that correctional facilities that have video visitation do not ban in-person visits.

Face-to-face visits help people in correctional facilities retain vital ties with loved ones on the outside. Jail and prison, by definition, are places of isolation and disconnection. We cannot allow for the removal of one of the few opportunities for connection -- and one of the few human rights -- granted to people who are locked in cages. 




Please ensure that correctional facilities do not ban in-person visits by voting YES on Congresswoman Duckworth's video visitation bill, Video Visitation in Prisons Act. Thank you.



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