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New Skype-like system for inmates unveiled at Rensselaer Co. Jail

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Updated: 7/29 7:18 pm

RENSSELAER, N.Y. – Inmates in the Rensselaer County Jail will be able to visit with family, friends, and professionals remotely.

Sheriff Jack Mahar demonstrated the new remote visitation system during a press conference at the jail on Tuesday.

It uses a Skype-like video chat system to arrange visits through the internet.

“And it’s a very reasonable fee. It’s $90 for 20 minutes, and in today’s day and age the cost of taking a taxi down here and back home or bus trips or the cost of gasoline, it’s very reasonable,” Mahar said.

The chat system can help inmates get through their time in jail.

“This does at a more personal level allow the inmate to retain the family ties and those that care about them and hopefully let them realize that people do care about them and reduce recidivism at the same time because if they can connect on a more personal level, they can set up jobs or places to live on their own without doing that for them,” Chief of Corrections Edward Bly said.

Albany County also has a similar system.

“The video visitation has been great,” Sheriff Craig Apple said. “You sign up for it at home, you go up on a website, sign in, they charge a fee to your credit card, and you get 15 minutes of visitation with a significant other, family member, whatever the case may be.”

The system does not cost taxpayers because the people using it pay for it, and it also eliminates the possibility of contraband entering the jail because people are not physically coming to the facility.

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