This video shows what we should be doing with our prisoners all around this country. It shows an inmate enjoying a happy birthday song from his entire family through a video chat provided to the prison. The service is provided by a telecommunications company called Securus. And Securus is doing great things.
Video chat visits with prisoners is a commendable idea. Our criminal justice system is not too kind to the families of prisoners. Judges send inmates a way to prisons all the way across the state and if the inmate is guilty of a federal crime, they can be sent all the way across the country.
But visitation is a vitally important part of our criminal justice system because it lowers recidivism rates and makes us all safer. Studies show that if prisoners are able to speak with their families and loved ones on a regular, everyday basis, they are much less likely to commit a crime when released.
It is hard to imagine a family with a loved one behind bars being able to drive all the way across the state every day. And once they get to the prison, he must go through a rigorous security screening that can take a long time. On top of all of this, the visitation area and prisons is not very accommodating — cold steel benches, uncomfortable tables, and security officers looking over your shoulder.
But we see the inmate in this video being able to get a sneak peek at his family’s new puppy. My guess is that if the inmate knows what’s going on outside of the prison she is much more likely to resume life seamlessly. He would know the goings-on of everybody in the family and he would be able to expect the new grown dog when he is released from prison. It is something to look forward to and it’s something that connects them to society as a whole. He is much less likely to damage this new societal paradigm when he gets out of jail.
The inmate in this video gets teary-eyed because he can talk to the kids and his family in comfort. It is another recidivism reducing connection to society established for the soon to be released prisoner.