Montgomery County Jail installs video chat for inmates and families amid pandemic

Inmates at the Montgomery County Jail and their families and friends have a new way to interact during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Video visitation stations are now in the lobby of the jail and are free to both the inmates and the visitors. Inmates are allowed two 30-minute visits a week, one per day.

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Montgomery County Sheriff Rob Streck said ending visitations was one of the hardest decisions he had to make at the beginning of the pandemic last year. He said it is important to him that inmates have an opportunity to see and talk with those they love while inside the Montgomery County Jail.

“Anytime that someone who is incarcerated can see a loved one, a friend, just a friendly face and talk to them about things they can’t talk to other people about, it’s always going to help us as far as care, custody and control of people who are housed in the jail.”

Streck said that the new equipment did not cost local taxpayers. He said the sheriff’s office worked with their vendor, Smart Communications, who put their equipment into the lobby. The sheriff’s office did use CARES Act money to create the space for the visitation center. An exact amount of money spent wasn’t immediately available Tuesday.

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Streck said Smart Communications does charge a fee for other services they provide like an emailing system inmates may use and a communication system that allows visitors to visit an inmate virtually from a remote place like their home.

The lobby visitation system is operational now, but visitors must register and schedule 24 hours in advance at smartinmate.com or call 888-843-1972. Visitations can take place from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Visitors in the jail are asked to social distance and wear a mask.

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