Jail to get new video visitation system
Minnehaha County installs upgraded kiosk, phone system
August 23. 2013 9:17AM
It was more than a week since friends and relatives were been able to visit inmates at the Minnehaha County Jail.
The temporary shutdown of on-site and online visitation was the result of contractors installing a new kiosk and phone system, Warden Jeff Gromer said.
The county decided June 4 to change visitation contractors from TurnKey to IC Solutions. Visits were shut down Aug. 6 as IC Solutions employees began to replace video screens and install new hardware and network cable. The system was ready for testing late last week, Gromer said.
“Obviously, we’ll need to work some of the bugs out, but I foresee it being up and running pretty well by next week,” Gromer said.
Inmates were informed in the weeks leading up to the shutdown that visits would be offline. Phone service was not interrupted, Gromer said.
The new system will continue to offer Internet-based video visitation for 35 cents per minute and calls for 25 cents a minute, but the county will reap a greater financial benefit from the new contract.
The county collects a percentage of all inmate- or family-paid fees for online visitation and phone calls, but the new contract with IC Solutions guaranteed a payment of at least $170,000 for the first year, commission administrative officer Ken McFarland said.
The county collects half the revenue for video chats and 43 percent of revenues from calls.
The guarantee gave IC Solutions a leg up, McFarland said. The county collected an average of $109,400 from inmate visits the last two years.
The money was a factor, but Sheriff Mike Milstead cautioned that the visitation money doesn’t amount to much. The overall jail budget is approximately $11 million.
The new system will continue to offer online video visits, which have been available for about a year. The video chat function, which is similar to Skype, gives options to faraway family members, Milstead said.
“If Grandma in Tennessee wants to visit, she can do that,” he said.
Visit a jail inmate
To video chat with a Minnehaha County inmate, go to www.icsvideovisit.com. Details on local visitation rules are available at http://www.minnehahacounty.org/dept/so/jail_info/jail_visitation_info.aspx