The Smith County Sheriff's Office recently unveiled a new service for those wishing to connect with inmates at both low-risk and central jail in downtown Tyler: a video visitation service.
Now, all visitors will travel to the low-risk facility to use one of the 30 private video screens and phone handsets for inmate visitation. Previously, visitors traveled to whichever location housed the inmate they wanted to visit.
A new kiosk is also available, according to the Sheriff's Department, which allows visitors to post bonds online and deposit funds for inmates to access for commissary purchases.
"Technology has allowed most of us to communicate through computers, smart phones, iPads and other devices. This same comfortable form of communication is now available to those who want to visit with inmates at either jail location," said Sheriff Larry Smith.
Visitation hours remain the same, the only change being that visitation will take place via video screen via a private, secure link instead of in person.
Sheriff's officials said the change streamlines the 20-minute visits and provides easier parking for the visitors.
Smith said the new system, including five stations that are built to accommodate those in wheelchairs, went online March 14. Currently, only 20 of the 30 visitation booths are available pending the installation of the last of the communication links. The remaining 10 will be in service soon.
Both projects were funded through the new jail construction project.
The deputies who previously manned the visitor's desk at the Central Jail downtown are now available twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, at the Smith County Sheriff's Office administration building, located at 227 N. Spring Street to answer questions and assist the public.
According to the Sheriff's Department, visitor information is as follows:
Visitation for Women is Monday, Thursday and Saturday
Visitation for Men is Tuesday, Friday, Sunday
Visitors must sign up at the Low-Risk facility the day of visitation between 12:30PM and 4:30PM
Thursday, May 23 2013 7:45 AM EDT2013-05-23 11:45:13 GMT
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