An Ohio video visitation program that helped 200 families keep in touch with incarcerated relatives has closed because it ran out of money, reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The program allowed for face-to-face meetings, via video conferencing. Experts say its loss created a void that remains unfilled. Children who have a parent or parents behind bars are at greater risk of trouble themselves. Visitation can ease that. Social visits for inmates while they're in prison can help lower recidivism rates once they get out.
A state grant that largely funded Project IMPACT (Incarcerated Mothers, Parents And Children's Televisitation) ended last year. Director Caroljean Gates said most of the families who used the video program didn't have the means to travel long distances to see incarcerated relatives. They also found videoconferencing more convenient than waiting to get on a visitor list at a state prison. For children, those meetings were important, she said, because children who have incarcerated parents have a higher risk of becoming teenage parents, dropping out of school, abusing drugs and committing a felony. A 2010 report by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction showed that in a sample of 3,396 people, 38 percent of female inmates and 21 percent of males had dependent children living with them at their time of arrest.