Two of the biggest problems that prison staff must face every day are security and cost. From visitation to healthcare to education, cost-efficient technology solutions can make the lives of inmates safer and better.

Cisco® Connected Justice™ and Renovo Software have partnered to integrate Renovo’s expertise in inmate visitation management and Cisco’s open communications infrastructure. This combination provides prisons and courts with the ability to offer telecommunications services that improve lives and uphold public safety standards while cutting costs.

A great example of this theory in practice is Muskegon County Jail. The Michigan jail will leverage Renovo’s videoconferencing technologies to facilitate visitation for inmates and their families, as well as streamline communication with courtrooms and lawyers. Televisitation allows inmates to maintain frequent face-to-face contact with their legal counsel and visitors without the concerns of physical safety and contraband. This technology alleviates a burden on prison personnel and eases the physiological impact of visiting a prison for families of inmates, especially children. Video visitation is not new, but Muskegon County is a pioneer in fully adopting the practice and planning for its future use.

Beyond visitation, Cisco Connected Justice and telecommunication technology provides many other ways for correctional facilities to tackle security and cost challenges facing the industry and threatening public safety today.

Prisoners’ Health Shouldn’t Be Cost-Prohibitive

Keeping inmates healthy is a basic requirement of prisons. Sometimes health care includes transferring inmates or contracting specialists to visit the prison, which are both expensive and risky. To increase the frequency and quality of care, several prisons have been using telehealth, which is uncompromised healthcare that is accessible without bringing in an outside physician. The potential for a more cost-effective system allows for inmate access to better quality medical services and care not previously available in specialties like psychiatry and dermatology.

Online Educators Aren’t Just for University Students

Although it’s a priority for rehabilitation, inmate education can be too risky and costly to be an efficient use of staff resources. Telecommunications removes the need to physically protect educators and gives inmates access to a diverse choice of instructors who may have been barred from participation due to location or security.

Virtual Court Appearances Keep Trials Running Smoothly and Securely

Court appearances and arraignment hearings are necessary for many inmates but their cost, risk and time can be difficult for correctional facilities. Secure, interactive video streams for motions and testimonies are a quicker and cheaper option than inmate transfers, and don’t come with the added risks of escape or confrontation. Inmates are safer, there are fewer opportunities for mistakes and trials are less costly for the state.

The possibilities that Cisco Connected Justice solutions hold for law enforcement go well beyond these examples. Language interpretation, administrative meetings, parole and rehabilitation can all be safer and more cost-effective procedures when video technology is used.

These programs are worth the initial investment because secure prisoners create safer facilities. Over 120 correctional facilities have already used Renovo’s visitation system and more are following. Public safety does not stop with our incarcerated population. Videoconferencing technology can be used to benefit and protect these individuals, the people that work with them and those who will encounter them after their release.

If you missed our live webcast June 5 on creating a unified, interoperable public safety IT environment, you can View it On-Demand Now.

And be sure to check in for all our upcoming Friday blogs on the latest trends, challenges and technologies impacting public safety. Follow the hashtag #CiscoPublicSafety and @CiscoStateLocal and @CiscoGovt on Twitter for updates, and visit the Cisco Public Safety site for more information on solutions.


Bob Stanberry

Senior Law Enforcement Advisor