Virtual visits could soon take you behind bars

Published 01/15 2014 02:15PM

Updated 01/15 2014 05:21PM

SPRINGFIELD -- Technology is changing the way we all communicate, even behind bars. There's a new way to do inmate visits.

Starting this summer, those with loved ones in prison, might not have to travel there to see and talk to them. The Department of Corrections is going to offer video visits, sort of like "Skyping" or "Facetiming," in addition to traditional in-person visits.

At first, families will have to go to a satellite location to make the call, but eventually, you'll be able to do it right from home. Supporters say it will let families reconnect more often since sometimes it's hard to physically travel back and forth to a facility.

One issue with the new technology is cost, running about $30 for a half-hour call. Critics worry low-income families won't be able to afford the virtual visits, but the state says it's cheaper than paying to travel from your home to a prison, since you have to pay for gas, food and maybe even a hotel.

The state also says it won't be making any money of the service. The fee is to pay for the systems and maintenance.

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