TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — A new video system at the Tippecanoe County Jail is expected to make it more convenient and safer to visit inmates.
Visits to the jail will be temporarily canceled during installation the week of March 5, but the sheriff's office says the program will be worth the wait.
"In the past, visitors have come in and placed things in our lobby that we didn't necessarily want them to place in here," said Tippecanoe Sheriff Barry Richard.
The new video visitation program should cut down on that lobby traffic, allowing jail staff to more closely monitor the area.
"It's something that they're seeing more and more of throughout the United States — being able to have this off-the-site visitations," Richard said.
Clinton County Attorney Jeff Little drives about 30 minutes to his clients here in Tippecanoe County. He thinks the program will be useful for lawyers too.
"If I'm coming here, say, to review a plea offer or a witness list where I don't actually have to meet with them personally, then that could be very helpful, absolutely," said Little. "I think it's a good program. I just became aware of it recently, so we will see how it works out."
It's convenient for inmates with family and friends from out of town. It also opens up more communication for children with incarcerated parents. The current policy allows kids to visit one day per month.
"Our lobby is going to remain only the first Sunday of the month for the children to visit for free. But at home, they can visit numerous times a week if they need or want to," said Tippecanoe County Sheriff’s Office Jail Division Cpt. Tom Lehman. "I think it will absolutely increase the morale of the inmates."
Visitations will be canceled Monday, March 5, through Wednesday, March 7, for the installation of the new program. It will be back open March 8. That week video visitation will be free.
The sheriff's office didn't have to pay for the program. A user fee pays the company that supplies it. Extra money from the program could be added to the commissary account.
"It's not a cost to us whatsoever, which obviously is a very important part of our sheriff's office," said Richard.
The commissary funds several operations within the jail. The staff is calling it a win-win for them, visitors and even inmates.
All inmate visitors will now have to register online. The fee is $10 per 25-minute visitation.