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A New Role for Technology: The Impact of Video Visitation

NCJ Number
Léon Digard
Date Published
January 2018
10 pages
The methodology and findings are reported for a study of the implementation and outcome/impact of video visitation for prison inmates in Washington State, which installed video visitation in state prisons during 2013 and 2014.
Overall, the study found that use of the video-visit services was linked to a significant increase in the number of in-person visits inmates received; however, use of the service was low. During the study period, 11.5 percent of the study sample used the video-visit service at least once. Interviews and surveys indicated that the low rate of use was due, in part, to service cost and dissatisfaction with its quality. Visitors pay $12.95 for a 30-minute video visit, a cost in line with national averages. Regular and high users of the service experienced a 40-49 percent increase in the number of in-person visits they received. The video-visitation program did not have a significant impact on in-prison behavior, as measured by rule violations. The study recommends that video visitation, although a positive supplement to services available to incarcerated people, should not replace in-person visits, as has occurred in some local jails. The distance between prison locations and the inmates' communities is a significant barrier to more frequent in-person inmate visits. Departments of corrections must address this issue in order to facilitate a significant increase in inmate visits. A listing of 3 related reports and upcoming scholarly products