Hinds County Inmate Video Visits

Hinds County Supervisors are moving forward with plans to allow video visitation for inmates in county jails.  Global Tel Link, a company that many prison reform advocates disparage, now offers video visitation for inmates and their families.

Video Visitation a Growing Trend, but Concerns Remain

By Prison Legal News

A growing trend toward the use of video visitation at jails across the country is drawing the praise of corrections officials and prisoners’ family members alike, though some advocacy groups worry that video visits could pose an undue financial hardship on those least able to afford it and possibly lead to the elimination of in-person visits.

“I think it’s the way of the future,” said Kane County, Illinois police commander Corey Hunger. “In the next 20 years, I think everyone will have it.”

At some jails, visitors can use video screens to communicate with prisoners in another part of the facility. Other systems allow people to conduct visits via the Internet from a remote location, including their own homes. Prisoners typically use video monitors set up in cell blocks or other designated areas; the visits are monitored and recorded. [See: PLN, July 2013, p.44; Sept. 2012, p.42; Nov. 2011, p.37; Jan. 2010, p.22].

But in Kane County and other jails, the installation of video systems spelled the end of in-person visits. Hunger said not having to screen visitors and escort them through the jail frees up guards to perform other duties. Officials also claim that doing away with face-to-face visits reduces confrontations among prisoners and the risk that visitors will smuggle in contraband.

“[F]rom the standpoint of safety and security, it’s a huge improvement,” stated St. Clair County, Illinois Sheriff Rick Watson. “Every pod has a video monitor and the prisoners don’t have to be moved for visits, which saves on staff time. And if you cut down on movement of prisoners, you cut down on dangerous incidents.”

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Interview With Mike Schnobrich

By Dianne Frazee-Walker

Dianne Frazee-Walker met Mike Schnobrich about six years ago at a political leadership seminar in Colorado Springs, CO. Mr. Schnobrich is the true leader he represents. He has a passion for improving the prison system and is willing to step into whatever leadership position necessary to implement beneficial changes.

It didn’t take long for Mike to become a board member of Full Circle Restorative Justice (FCRJ) Chaffee County, CO. He served on the FCRJ board for two years not only because it gave him an excuse to visit picturesque Salida, CO., but it was another outlet for the changes Mike avidly believes in. He is an advocate for fair treatment of both prison employees and inmates, so it is no surprise Mr. Schnobrich is President of American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 1112 and Senior Officer Specialist of Federal Bureau of Prisons.

When Ms. Walker reconnected with Mr. Schnobrich on social media he informed her of some new information about the prison system. She was all ears as to what Mike had to share and scheduled and interview with him.

As Ms. Walker was driving into the quaint prison town of Florence, CO, she was eager to learn what Mike had to tell her about the latest trends in prison reform. Mr. Schnobrich always has a flood of information to speak about when the conversation is centered on prison reform.

Leave it to Mike to come up with a concept Walker had not anticipated. Mike believes the key to prison reform begins with the correctional staff. The theory makes sense. Prison transformation advocates can have the best intentions for improving the state of the prison system, but it is difficult to have a positive impact on making changes within the inmate population until the staff is dealt with.

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Picking Up the Tab

A new report says state jails in Texas are ineffective, expensive, and actually result in higher recidivism rates than Texas prisons.The report from the Texas Public Policy Foundation suggests taxpayers are getting a bad deal on their tax dollars and public safety.The report's author, Jeanette Moll, says through the research they have found state jails have become a costly substitute for prisons."These facilities were actually exceeding the expenses, and had higher recidivism rates than prisons, that adds up to a pretty bad deal for Texas taxpayers," said Moll

How much does incarceration cost?

Federal prison: The federal prison system's budget in fiscal year 2014 is $6.9 billion, which represents one-quarter of the budget of the Department of Justice. The average cost of incarcerating a federal prisoner in 2012 was $29,027.46, or $79.31 per day.

State prisons: A 2012 study by the Vera Institute of Justice found that the true cost of prisons in 40 states, including things like hospital services and retirement benefits for staff, ran to $39 billion a year.

That comes out to an average cost of $31,286 per inmate. New York led the states with a cost of $60,076 per inmate; Kentucky spent only $14,603.

In 2009, the Pew Center on the States calculated the average daily cost of prison, probation and parole across 33 states, and found that prison cost an average of $78.95 per inmate per day, while parole cost $7.47 and probation cost $3.42:

Graph courtesy vox.com

Graph courtesy vox.com

Federal Bureau of Prisons Considering Law Library Expansion: eDiscovery Materials To Be Included in Suite of Services for Inmates

Image courtesy dataplusconsulting.com

Image courtesy dataplusconsulting.com

By Christopher Zoukis

In a move that might prove extremely useful to federal prisoners, the Federal Bureau of Prisons has published a solicitation notice for "inmate electronic discovery," or "eDiscovery," seeking information relating to support services, hardware, and software that would allow prisoners to view electronic discovery documents used in court litigation.

The formal Request for Information issued by the Federal Bureau of Prisons' Information Technology Planning and Development Branch specified that the project is merely in the planning stage, and that no formal bids would be accepted yet.

At present, BOP inmates have access to a LexisNexis legal database that includes court decisions, BOP regulatory documents, and several treatises.  The "TRULINCS Electronic Law Library" is a stand-alone system with no connection to the Internet or court databases (i.e., PACER, the federal court's public access system).  As such, in most cases when a BOP inmate is involved in criminal or civil court litigation, only paper case-related documents are available to him or her.

Allowing inmates to access systems like PACER through a secure network like TRULINCS would not only permit inmates better access to the courts, but would also have several other benefits, such as eliminating the substantial expense of requiring government agencies and other litigants to serve inmates with discovery documents and other media in paper form (with the related mailing costs).  Such a system would also improve security, less inventory concerns, and reduce expenses for the BOP.

To learn more about this developing story, read the FCW's article "Bureau of Prisons mulls eDiscovery computers for inmates" or the actual "Request for Information."

This video outlines the basic concepts and practices associated with electronic discovery including the basic discovery process, the e-discovery IT reference model, and the e-discovery maturity model.