WASHINGTON COUNTY, Ohio (WTAP) - Ohio Governor Mike DeWine recently tweeted that Ohio prisons will temporarily halt visitation while the state tries to contain the corona virus outbreak.
Officials say The Washington County Jail hasn’t accepted face-to-face visits in over a year, and will continue their video call visits.
Once a week a prisoner can have a visitor call video them for a half an hour, free of charge, from inside the jail.
Officers say the video calls keep the inmates healthier.
“It cuts down on interaction between somebody coming in to visit them and also an inmate visiting anybody visiting them. It’s all on video. There is no contact, there’s no physical or even face-to-face interaction between inmate and visitor,” said Hill.
Inmates can also be video called for a fee as many times a week as their visitor cares to pay for. Officers say it is about $10 per call.
“There’s a price to do it offsite, but for convenience-sake, if they’re far away or out of town or for weather purposes, they can still get a visit in. It gives the inmate more opportunity to set up a visit and get that interaction with a family member or friend,” said Sargent Josh Hill with the Washington County Sheriff’s Department.
Not only do officials believe it to be more convenient, but it allows inmates to get more visitors.
“We had visitation two nights a week,” said Hill. “If weather wasn’t permitting or other reasons it was cutting down visitation times for the inmate or the visitors,” said Hill.
Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks says the calls are monitored and inappropriate behavior results in the termination of the call, with other punishment possible.
West Virginia Governor Jim Justice announced Wednesday afternoon that West Virginia prisons would also be temporarily halting visitation.