Montgomery County jail now using kiosks for inmate mail

Lauren Kandrac, regional sales director for Smart Communications, shows media how the new mail kiosks work. STAFF/BONNIE MEIBERS
Lauren Kandrac, regional sales director for Smart Communications, shows media how the new mail kiosks work. STAFF/BONNIE MEIBERS

Inmates at the Montgomery County Jail now receive mail on an electronic kiosk, eliminating contraband coming into the facility and saving time for both inmates and jail employees.

Florida-based Smart Communications installed 62 kiosks throughout the jail between January and March of this year.

With the new kiosk system, inmates can order a hair cut, request to talk to their attorneys, request to talk to peer supporters, file a medical or jail grievance or access many other types of information, such as their next court date or their release date.

Montgomery County Sheriff Rob Streck said that since March, the county jail has taken 25,716 requests on that system.

“This has served our inmates and our staff well,” Streck said.

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Paper mail is scanned in at Smart Communication’s office in Florida and uploaded to the system so that inmates can view their mail. Lauren Kandrac, regional sales director for Smart Communications, said the company processes about 80,000 pieces of mail a day and is contracted with 100 facilities across the country.

Smart Communications installed the kiosks at no charge to the county or taxpayers. They provide inmates a certain amount of free outgoing mail and then charge them for 50 cents for anything above that, a rate that is still lower than the cost of postage at the jail, Streck said.

Streck said he has gotten positive feedback from the inmates about the new system.

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“They like being able to get their questions answered right away, they like knowing that if they hand in a request for commissary that they can do it right then and there and don’t have to worry about when the (corrections officer) is leaving, someone stops them and puts them on a different route and then those things get put off,” Streck said.

Prior to using the kiosk system, everything was done on paper, Streck said.

People who were opening mail at the county jail can now spend their time on other tasks, Kandrac said. Drugs and other contraband now also go to Smart Communications and not into the jail.

The jail is currently conducting a use study for the next step of the Smart Communications system, which will include video visitations.

Inmates would be able to talk with loved ones via the kiosk and the outside party’s phone.

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