Northern Neck Regional Jail (NNRJ) is giving its detainees a unique way to see their families this Holiday Season.
Last spring the jail entered into an agreement to offer video conferencing to its inmates, becoming the only correctional center in the State of Virginia to do so.
And as of Dec. 1, NNRJ is currently the only correctional center in the country to provide free video visitation to its constituents for a full month.
“This’ll be at no expense to us which is a measure of goodwill and marketing,” Hull told the board during a Dec. 5 meeting.
Normally prisoners may contact their families via video visitation as many times as they choose per day, according to Hull.
“They can do it ten times a day if they’re willing to schedule and pay,” Hull said. “It’s not limited.”
“This is more of a visitation enhancement as opposed to a replacement,” Hull added. “So like a phone call, if someone’s willing to pay for it, you can do it as often as you want.”
Hull clarified the jail’s rationale for expanding visitation rights.
“It’s Christmas and everyone wants to visit with their family,” Hull stated. “A significant portion of our population comes from an excess of 100 miles. Most of these guys don’t always get Christmas visits…they don’t always get visits period.”
“The idea was to do something nice for Christmas and maybe market the product a little bit,” Hull continued, adding that on-sight visitation will remain without cost for inmates and their families.
Chairman Darryl Fisher questioned how the jail would manage the increase in video conference calls with all of the prisoners now receiving the opportunity to talk to family members without cost for December.
Hull believed that the system for managing calls would work on a “first come, first serve” basis.
“It’s a scheduled event,” Hull mentioned. “You go online, you pick your time and if it’s available you reserve it.”
Northumberland County Administrator Kenneth Eades asked how many setups the jail held for prisoners.
Hull replied that there are 40 stations from which detainees can make video calls.
“Every unit has at least one [setup],” Hull remarked. “We have 20 housing units spread across the entire facility and you figure you could use it from 8 a.m. to 10:30 at night.”
Hull noted that the wide time-frame gave inmates “a lot of opportunities” with which to contact their loved ones.
In other business, Hull reported changes to the board in regards to water conservation, specifically changes to the jail’s laundry system which will be going live next week.
“We think that it should save a considerable amount of water in addition to some collateral costs associated with LP (gas) and electricity,” Hull stated. “We should realize significant savings in that area.”