Durham Democrats Oppose Video Visitation

On Saturday, April 1, the Durham County Democratic Party met for its annual county convention. The following is the text of a resolution that they passed opposing video visitation at the Durham County Jail.

A RESOLUTION CALLING FOR OUR COUNTY DETENTION CENTER TO WITHDRAW ITS PLAN TO ADD VIDEO VISITATION

Whereas; Eliminating, or even minimizing, in-person visits (visits behind plexi-glass in Durham County) can affect recidivism rates. Allowing inmates to see friends, family and loved ones face-to-face (even when behind plexi-glass as in Durham County) can reduce their chances of re-offending once they get out of jail, according to a 2015 study called “Screening out Family Time,” conducted by the Prison Policy Initiative. More personal communication improves an inmate’s well-being, while video visits make the contact less personal. (Screening out Family Time,” conducted by the Prison Policy Initiative.)

Whereas; Prison and jail visitation policies should recognize that family support is crucial to maintaining the relationships between those incarcerated and those who love them, especially as it pertains to developing and maintaining bonds between parents and children. Every available study agrees: Best practices for developing those bonds involve in-person visitation.(This would include current plexi-glass visitation as in Durham Detention Center.)
(www.grassrootsleadership.org/videosvisitation)

Whereas; Using video visitation technology requires computer literacy, which becomes a barrier for many desiring to use the service. Even those with a firm grasp of computer technology report frustration dealing with the many glitches and interruptions of service. Given the demographics of those in American jails and prisons – poor, mostly minority, a significant portion of whom speak Spanish as a first language – this technology may prevent any meaningful communication. (Public Policy Center, Texas Criminal Justice Coalition)

Whereas; The Durham County Detention Facility detains people who have not been convicted of any crime at the time of detainment, may only be unable to pay a few hundred dollars to be released while awaiting trial, may only suffer from mental illness, does not warrant the hardship of video visitation to the detainee and/or their family.

Whereas; Currently our Sheriff says he has no plans to make video visitation the only method of visitation, he, nor any county official, has any way of guaranteeing that in the future. We do know it will be expensive to implement and maintain for the county and potentially for the citizens trying to visit detainees, (ie: Wake County charges visitors $1.50 a minute) (http://wunc.org/post/advocates-question-plans-video-visitations-durham-jail#stream/0)

Therefore; be it resolved that the Durham County Democratic Party requests that the Durham County Detention Center NOT incorporate video visitation as a means of visiting persons detained in the county jail.

Be it further resolved that the Durham County Democratic Party requests the Durham County (Commissioners) and City (Council) and all Durham County elected officials not support, nor budget for any video visitation at the Durham County Detention Facility.

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