(WETM) — The Chemung County Sheriff’s office is turning to technology to allow inmates to visit their loved ones in the wake of COVID-19.
Visitation hasn’t been allowed at the Chemung County Jail since around December of 2020 due to COVID transmission risk. Right now, the jail offers non-contact visitation, with a barrier being placed between the two parties to prevent the possibility of diseases being spread.
“We have the staff to consider, the inmates to consider, we have two full-time nurses, and if either one of those were to get sick it would affect the operations of the facility significantly.” said Chemung County Sheriff Bill Schrom.
Schrom says that if somebody inside the jail became sick after visitation, they’d be put into quarantine and have to remain for up to 14 days.
To offer an alternative for inmates, the Sheriff’s office is currently in the process of implementing “GTL Inspire Tablets”, technology that has been rapidly adopted by larger correctional facilities throughout the state.
The system will allow Inmates to rent out a tablet with limited capabilities, including providing inmates with a way to stay connected with friends and family through face-time. The tablets are modified for security reasons. Features such as internet browsers, phone/SMS capabilities, and email are all disabled for inmate use. Still, Schrom says that the implementation of the technology has some doubters.
“There have been talks about it for years and it’s just a matter of convincing individual sheriffs,” Said Schrom. “Some of us have been around a long time and are not too sure that the new technology is necessarily a good thing. The more research we’ve done the more comfortable I feel that it’s a positive thing for both the inmates and the staff.”
Sheriff Schrom says that the department is currently wrapping up contractual agreements to have the tablets implemented in the next 30 to 45 days.
More information on the GTL tablets can be found on the company’s website at www.gtl.net/gtl-tablet-solutions/. The Chemung County Sheriff’s Office plans to announce when contractual agreements have been met to implement the tablets on their website at www.chemungsheriff.net.
In Steuben County, Sheriff Jim Allard said that there is currently no in-person visitation due to COVID. In Schuyler County, the Jail says that non-contact visits are currently allowed by appointment, and full contact visitation is still not allowed.