August 28, 2013
The system is designed to be extremely flexible. They can add or remove functionality and configure it to their liking... It’s all done through a single, web-based interface.
Meherrin River Regional Jail—a correctional facility covering Brunswick, Dinwiddie, and Mecklenburg Counties in Virginia—will move forward with plans to add at-home internet visits and a public visitation scheduling website to their existing video visitation system. A satellite facility in Mecklenburg County will be included in the upgrade, and video units at both facilities will be connected across a central network.
The Meherrin River Regional Jail has been utilizing Minneapolis-based Renovo Software’s video visitation system for inmate visitation since August of 2012. The system was expanded to the Mecklenburg County Jail, a satellite facility about 35 miles away, in early 2013. In an effort to reduce security risks and generate revenue, Meherrin officials now plan to add functionality which will allow visitors to register online, schedule visits online, and even choose an at-home internet visitation all through Renovo’s web-based system.
“Internet video visits give visitors and attorneys a low cost option to visit inmates without having to travel to the facility, go through security clearance, register with the lobby officer, and wait to be called in,” said Superintendent Crystal Willett. “I think it’s good for the families. Children aren’t exposed to the harsh realities of the correctional facility, visits aren’t affected by inclement weather, and it can save time and money.” Superintendent Willett also added that the efficiency of the new system will allow for expanded visitation hours.
Family and friends visiting inmates at the Meherrin River Regional Jail will eventually be given the option of visiting inmates at the satellite facility from video visitation units at the main facility, or vice versa. The option to visit inmates over the internet will also be available for a small fee. As a regional jail with inmates from three different counties, Meherrin hopes the new services will be convenient for visitors while generating revenue and allowing staff to focus on more mission-critical tasks.
“The system is designed to be extremely flexible,” said Nate Peterson, Renovo’s Account Manager for Meherrin. “They can add or remove functionality and configure it to their liking without having to reinstall everything or learn and manage an entirely separate new system. It’s all done through a single, web-based interface.”
The announcement comes after several studies have shown visitation to play an essential role in successful reentry after incarceration. A more convenient process and additional options like at-home visits can help keep inmates connected with their social support network on the outside. Studies show a direct correlation between inmate visitation and reducing recidivism.
“At a facility like Meherrin, visitors often have to travel long distances to see their loved ones,” Peterson pointed out. “With internet visits, they can save on travel time and gas money. All they need is internet access, a webcam, speakers, and a microphone. Meanwhile, the facility will have less people coming in and out and can recoup some of their operational costs. Plus the on-site visits will still be an option just like before.”
Renovo Software’s visitation management platform, VisManager, is designed to help jails and prisons improve efficiency, cut costs, and generate revenue through visitation. Renovo has aided large and small correctional facilities across the continent in streamlining inmate visitation for almost a decade. Renovo’s comprehensive system is used to manage and schedule on-premise video visits, internet video visits and face-to-face visits through a single web-based interface. With over 100 visitation customers across North America, Renovo continues to introduce next generation features and functionality.