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MDOC launches pilot program for video visitation at Michigan prisons

Posted at 12:29 PM, Oct 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-13 12:29:41-04

LANSING, Mich. (WXYZ) — The Michigan Department of Corrections announced Tuesday it has launched a pilot of a new video visitation program that will allow families to stay connected during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Video visitation began Monday at Parnall Correctional Facility, with online scheduling beginning Tuesday at the G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility.

In the next month, video visitation will be rolled out at five other facilities. Those are: Chippewa, Ionia, Richard A. Handlon and Women’s Huron Valley correctional facilities, Duane Waters Health Center and C-Unit of Charles Egeler Reception and Guidance Center.

“Contact with friends and family is so important to the prison population, that’s why we worked hard to explore new technologies that could allow them to connect with their loved ones during this time,” Michigan Department of Corrections Director Heidi Washington said in a release. “This is one step we are taking to safely restore contact between prisoners and their families, while protecting the health and well-being of everyone at our facilities. Video visitation will not replace contact visiting in the future, but it is a safe option we can proceed with during the pandemic.”

Visits will last 20 minutes each and cost $3.20 each visit. The cost must be paid for in advance by the person scheduling the visit, and visits may be scheduled 72 to 48 hours in advance.

Concurrent with video visitation, the MDOC has also been working to implement online scheduling software.

Once the pilot is complete, the MDOC plans to offer video visitation and online scheduling at all correctional facilities in the state.

Visitation has been suspended at correctional facilities statewide since March 13.

Approved visitors can navigate to to set up their visits and find more information about compatible devices and technology.