ROCK SPRINGS – During the week of January 6, 2014, a number of changes to on-site inmate visitation procedures at the Sweetwater County Detention Center will become effective. Sheriff Rich Haskell said the changes are being made in an effort to provide more visitation flexibility while decreasing overall costs incurred in operating inmate visitation sessions.
Haskell described the changes as follows:
- · Three Video Visitation Stations, (or VSSs), part of the recently-installed Telmate system at the Detention Center, will replace the visitation booths currently in use. In addition, the VSSs will provide the means to request and schedule inmate visits. Visits can also be scheduled by accessing the Telmate system via the Internet or by using one of the visitation kiosks at the Detention Center; friends and family, as well as inmates, will be able to schedule visits.
- · Each inmate will be allowed six 15-minute visits per week at no charge, which will replace the current visitation schedule. The public must use the VSSs at the facility in order to take advantage of the no-charge option. A maximum of two visitors may be present at the same time using the VSS. (The current visitation rules allow for only one visitor per 15-minute period.)
- · Additional on-site visitation sessions may be scheduled, but any in addition to the six per week will be charged at the Telmate rate of $7.50 per 30-minute period.
Haskell said once the new procedures become effective in January, hours for inmate visitations will be extended from what is currently available, offering more flexibility. Visitation hours will run from 6:00 AM to 7:30 AM, 9:00 AM to 7:30 PM, and from 9:00 PM to 9:30 PM, seven days per week. The only hours not available for visitation are during those times when Detention Center staff members are dispensing medication to inmates in need of it. “Lights Out” at the Center runs between 10:00 PM and 6:00 AM to allow for adequate rest for inmates.
Current facility policy regarding which inmates earn visitation privileges will remain in effect. Individual inmates may not be allowed visitations due to schedule conflicts with other commitments within the facility; such commitments include court appearances or professional service visits. Inmates may also be denied visitation privileges if they have become subject to certain levels of disciplinary action for rules violations within the facility.
During the initial transition to the new Video Visitation System – during about the first week of operation – Telmate personnel will be present at the Detention Center to assist inmate family and friends.
Haskell said he and the Detention Center staff appreciate the public’s understanding and patience during the transition. “We know there will be some amount of frustration for inmate visitors learning the new system, but ultimately it will provide more options and opportunities for family and friends to visit inmates.” He also reminded people that online, off-site visits are available by using a computer with speakers, a camera, and Internet access; the Telmate fee schedule is available at their website.
Complete visitation rules may be referenced in the Telmate brochure, available at the Detention Center, by calling Telmate’s information line at 1-866-516-0115, or by visiting the Telmate website atwww.gettingout.com .