Jun 14, 2013 5:16 PM
New technology is making it easier for inmates and their families to connect in Laurel County. The jail recently made the change to video machines. Think of it as a secure version of Skype.
If you're locked up in Laurel County longing to talk to loved ones, all you have to do is log on and look.
Bobby Shepherd has been in jail for about a month for a parole violation. He's from London, but has family in Ohio and Chicago.
"Just by using their webcam they can visit me anytime they want to. It makes a little bit more convenient for them," Shepherd says.
Convenience was a big factor in the jail switching from face-to-face visits to a virtual visit for inmates and their families. Before, they got two 15-minute sessions a week.
Now, without the logistics of shuffling inmates to and from the visitation rooms, the time they have is doubled, with two 30-minute sessions a week for free.
Officials say the inmates are very pleased with it.
Families can even chat with their relatives from the comfort of their own home if they can't make it to Laurel County. If you have the proper audio and video equipment, it only costs $15.00 per off-site session. That money goes to the company who installed the machines which allowed the jail to get all of the equipment without spending a dime of tax payers' dollars.
The facility has also used the machines to stream-line other tasks, including commissary menu and maintenance requests.
Staff say the upgrade has been a win-win situation both for them and for the inmates, like Bobby Shepherd, who's looking forward to speaking to his family using the new technology.