Inmate Visitation Technology Pays Dividends at Kent County Jail

Kent County Jail, Grand Rapids, MI

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Kent County has generated over $60,000 in revenue through visitation with over $20,000 coming in the past two months alone.

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An upgrade to inmate visitation technology is paying off in Grand Rapids, MI. The Kent County Jail has increased visitation and generated tens of thousands of dollars in just the first few months.

When Kent County began using Renovo Software’s visitation management system in 2009, the conveniences of public web scheduling along with the security and efficiency of video visitation were a welcome change. Four years later, the decision was made to move ahead with Renovo’s at-home visitation and revenue generation options. In April of 2013, those changes were made live.

“Internet visitation was an opportunity for us to improve our service to the public and offset costs at the same time,” said Deputy Dan Bultsma. “We knew the quality of product and service we could expect from Renovo, and the system has certainly delivered.” Since April, Kent County has generated over $60,000 in revenue through visitation with over $20,000 coming in the past two months alone.

Prior to the upgrade, family and friends of inmates at the Kent County Jail in Grand Rapids, MI had only one option for visitation: sign up for an available time slot, and travel to the facility. Today, visitors choose from several options:

  1. Sign up for the next available on-site visit (just like before)
  2. Purchase an extra on-site visit for $15 if the inmate’s weekly limit is met
  3. Purchase a 10 minute internet visit for $4 (does not count toward weekly limit)
  4. Purchase a 25 minute internet visit for $10 (does not count toward weekly limit)

“Visitors have responded well,” said Deputy Bultsma. To date, Kent County visitors have purchased over 5,000 internet visits and over 2,000 extra on-site visits. “Many of those are visits that inmates may not have been able to have otherwise,” Bultsma added, “and we have been able to accomplish it all without additional staff.”

“Recordings, monitoring, restrictions, stations—everything visitation related is handled in the same way through the same interface whether the visitor is on site or at home,” said Tim Eickhoff, Co-owner and Managing Partner of Renovo Software. Renovo also offers free phone, email, and live chat support for internet visitors, so facility staff can focus on more important tasks. “Our goal is to make it as easy as possible,” said Eickhoff. “Facilities shouldn’t have to manage two separate systems for visitation, and neither should their visitors. The only real difference should be the visitor’s location.”

“In retrospect, it’s easy to see that it was the right move,” said Deputy Bultsma. “There are a lot of significant benefits for both visitors and the jail, not to mention inmate morale and recidivism rates. Renovo’s expertise has been invaluable, and they have exceeded our expectations.” If current trends continue, inmate visitation at Kent County could generate some $120,000 a year.

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