Face-to-face visits will continue at the Dallas County Jail after county commissioners threw out a proposed contract with a videoconferencing company that would have banned them, reports the Dallas Morning News. Securus Technologies was seeking a contract to provide video visitations at the jail. Commissioners said they were still interested in the service, but not at the cost of stopping in-person visits. The ban on face-to-face visits appeared to be a way for the company, based in North Texas, to recoup its expenses for installing the video-visitation system. The company was going to spend around $5 million to set up the technology. It would then charge $10 for each 20-minute video chat. Dallas County would have received up to a 25 percent commission on those calls.
Prohibiting in-person visits almost surely would have increased the number of video chats, which in turn would boost revenues for Securus and for the county. When details of the contract were made public, County Judge Clay Jenkins led a last-ditch effort to reject it. Backed by inmates' rights advocates, Jenkins said the contract made video visits too costly. “It is a way to make money … off the backs of families,” he said. He also said eliminating in-person visits would be inhumane. Commissioners were flooded with emails opposing the contract. At yesterday's meeting of the Commissioners Court, 17 people showed up to speak out against the plan. After more than two hours of discussion, the court voted to pull the item from its agenda.