Illinois prisons are integrating technology with inmate visits. This spring, some facilities will begin offering video visitations from satellite locations. Families will pay a 30-dollar fee to speak to a loved-one behind bars. Corrections spokesman Tom Shaer says it will put less stress on those who make long trips to state prisons. But he says they are not planning to remove that option:
"The Dept. of Corrections completely agrees with the absolutely high importance of in-person visits"
Shaer says the traditional option is still necessary in reforming inmates. John Maki is with the John Howard Association, a prison watchdog. He says giving families another way to connect with inmates is a good thing. But he says they worry about the potential for high fees:
"Most of the ones who have someone in jail are exceedingly poor and that's not something I think that Illinois should be doing."
The corrections department defends the planned fee, saying they need a way to pay for the service without turning to taxpayers. They also say it's less than what other programs have charged, and that families will still save a lot of money.
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