Video traverses the highest walls: unites children with parents
In recent posts on Break Down the Walls, we’ve discussed the uses of video teleconferencing (VTC) in the correctional system. We talked about how VTC is being used in prisons in CA to deliver medical care to prisoners without the need to take them out of jail. We’ve also shown cases in MI where VTC is being used along the same lines for first arraignments and during trials.
The end benefits of these VTC implementations are two-fold. Financially, the state saves significant taxpayer dollars by no longer having to transport and guard prisoners leaving correctional facilities for medical care and trials. There is also an added benefit to public safety.
However, not all uses of VTC implementations in prisons are meant to keep prisoners behind bars and separated from the outside world. Some prisons are using their VTC solutions for the completely opposite reason, to bring prisoners closer to the world, and their lives, outside of prison.
Many people forget that prisoners are more than just individuals who were found guilty of breaking the law. Prisoners are someone’s son or daughter, mother or father, grandfather or grandmother, or brother or sister.
In fact, the State of Florida estimates that 15,000 children in Miami-Dade County alone have at least one parent in jail. This is why the state recently approved a new program that was launched on March 19, 2010 designed to bring these children closer together with their incarcerated parents via VTC.
Using VTC solutions, children from Miami-Dade are now able to connect with their incarcerated parents at the Family & Children Faith Coalition office. This ensures that imprisoned individuals can continue to play a role in their children’s lives, and gives area children the parental contact so important to their development. Also, the use of VTC for visitation eliminates the need for potentially traumatic security measures and searches that are a part of on-site visitation, and eliminates any security concerns for the child by keeping them outside of prison walls.
Using VTC to break down the walls between children and their incarcerated parents is a step in the right direction for both the healthy development of the children, and the rehabilitation of the parents. Now that’s a new way of working.