County jail looking to upgrade video visitation equipment

ROCHESTER, Minn. – Visiting a friend or family member in prison is different wherever you go, but many places have gone away from the old-fashioned way of talking through a piece of glass via telephone.

Just like the technology we use every day, this type of equipment is evolving fast. The equipment used in the Olmsted County Adult Detention Center is more than a decade old.

That, and many recent major problems, is why Sheriff David Mueller and others with the sheriff’s office are going to the county board to discuss options.

Ideas being tossed around include technology that would allow friends and family to visit with an inmate from anywhere that they can access the internet.

“We need to have a system that’s working and in good shape and then really what this also provides us, is a nice opportunity to look at some of the technology and the things that are going to be useful for the future,” Mueller said.

He said this would help with scheduling a visit as well. Right now with all of the paperwork and other things that need to be done beforehand, Mueller said some families do not get to visit when they would like.

“This, from a safety and security perspective is a better system, but we’re ultimately looking to take that next step in allowing us this opportunity from a convenience perspective that will allow people an opportunity to visit someone in our facility from the convenience of their home,” Mueller said.

Right now they are really in the proposal stage.

Mueller said one option would be having the county pay for the system, which would run hundreds of thousands of dollars but would have some revenue with that.

The other would be at no cost to the county, but instead be paid for through a visitation fee. However, that option comes with a few more restrictions.

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