For most of the history of the U.S. criminal justice system, a sentence to state prison often meant that the prisoner would no longer be able to see their family for the duration of their sentence. This was largely a function of the great distances than most prisoners ended up serving their time relative to where their home towns are located.
Situations where the family was located 300, 400 or even more miles away from the prison where their loved one was incarcerated were not uncommon. For example, in the state of California, it is not at all uncommon for people from the San Diego area to end up incarcerated in San Quentin state prison, along the San Francisco Bay. There are instances of such cases, where family members quickly gave up visiting their loved ones after the first trip. The cost of hotel rooms, meals on the road and other expenses associated with such a long road trip ended up being too much to bear.
Add to this the fact that most families of prisoners fall into the lower decile or quartile of income, and you have a recipe for financial disaster. Many families, in times past, realized that they were facing the decision between visiting their children’s father once a year and being able to cover rent for that month. These are terrible decisions for family members, who often to had no other way to communicate with their loved ones than to see them in person.
However, starting 10 years ago, Securus Technologies began rolling out its highly innovative video visitation solution. The system relies on VoIP-based communications technology that has been developed in-house by Securus. This represents hundreds of millions of dollars in research and development as well as tens of thousands of man hours, culminating in a system that is capable of closely emulating real life, person-to-person visitations.