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.