The communication system for inmate phone calls and visitation at the Marshall County Jail will get an upgrade after the commissioners approved a contract Tuesday morning with a new vendor.
Sheriff Tom Chamberlin told the commissioners that the company, Telmate, not only offers the telephone option for inmates, but also video visitation at an off-site location. Family members can schedule a video visitation with an inmate by going through officials at Telmate. Chamberlin explained that kiosks will be placed in the cells for video visitation as well as computers. The inmates will use the notebook computers if the kiosks are being used.
Chamberlin said the change will help ease the work load at the jail.
“This will help facilitate the amount of visitation,” said Chamberlin. “We currently, by law, have to provide 30 minutes of visitation for free. Visitation will be in 15-minute increments daily instead of the ten-minute blocks we currently have.”
Inmates will also have access to email.
“With emails, it will make it much easier. They have ten free minutes, either receiving or making out an email. Anything over those ten minutes, they are charged 15 cents per minute to either receive or to send an email.”
Telmate will monitor all content to ensure there is no threat to the facility. If there is a situation of illegal communication or a direct threat to the facility, the staff at the sheriff’s department can monitor the content.
Chamberlin noted that all of the thousands of dollars of maintenance fees will end with the installation of equipment by Telmate. The company will take care of all equipment and liability.
The commissioners unanimously approved the contract after County Attorney Jim Clevenger said he reviewed the contract and amended it with the company to get the right fit for the county.
There are 21 counties in the state that utilize this company for inmate communications. Telmate is the provider for technology at the Department of Homeland Security.