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Remote visitation starts at the Hamilton County Justice Center on Wednesday

Posted at 5:26 PM, Sep 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-22 20:09:56-04

Starting Wednesday, inmates who haven't been able to visit with or see their family in six months will be able to have virtual visitation. In-person visits are still not allowed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I would say there's an increased agitation amongst the population that's incarcerated right now," said Captain Kyran Weithofer, with the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office.

He said that frustration is visible daily and he hopes a new video chat system can change that.

According to the sheriff's website, people who wish to remotely visit with inmates inside the Justice Center will have to set up an account with Securus. Once the account is set up, people will have to register and schedule times to virtually visit.

"Once that visit is scheduled, an inmate will go to the terminal, like the one you have behind me, and they'll be able to pull up the schedule and see mom has scheduled a visit with me for 3:00 this afternoon," said Tom Hoffman, with Securus Technologies.

Inmates in the Justice Center can receive a free 30-minute visit each week, and remote visitors can buy three more 20-minute extensions per day. The cost per visit outside of the free 30-minute visit is $5.99 per visit. Families can create accounts from their phone, computer or tablet.

"Any loved ones anywhere in the country, or the world for that matter, can have a visitation with any of their loved ones that are incarcerated at this time," said Tom Hoffman, with Securus Technologies.

Once it's approved by Governor DeWine, visitors will also be allowed to come to the facility and use the video chat system in the lobby.

Virtual visits will be Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8:40 p.m. and on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8:40 p.m.

Justice Center inmates have not had visitors, in person or virtual, since March due to the coronavirus pandemic. In-person visitation is still suspended, and it is not known when in-person visitation will resume.

"With video visitation coming out, it's going to be a release for them to see their loved ones again," said Weithofer.

There's a total of 164 devices available for inmates and 24 in the lobby for the public.

The Hamilton County Justice Center said virtual visitation is something they'll continue to keep in place after the pandemic is over as well.