NOTED CRIME EXPERT, TV HOST INTRODUCED AS COMPANY ENDORSER
VIRGINIA BEACH, VA (Jan. 2013) — John Walsh, internationally known from the long-running America’s Most Wanted television show, has officially endorsed HomeWAV, an Internet-based video visitation system adapted for use in correctional facilities. Company officials announced the relationship on Thursday, December 6, 2012.
Virginia-based HomeWAV is a unique, patent pending system that has been implemented by state and local detention authorities since 2012 and currently has 13 contracted facilities in 10 states. (more…)Read More...
by Danielle Beurteaux
November 21, 2012
Family and friends of inmates face many obstacles in visiting their loved ones in prison. These visits can also impose an administrative burden on the detention facilities. Because of these difficulties, Gary Humphries pioneered a web-based video conferencing program called HomeWAV. BizTech Magazine covers HomeWAV’s services and innovation in their Winter 2013 issue.Read More...
By Robin Y. Richardson
The Marshall News Messenger
October 5, 2012
October 7, 2012
Thanks to the innovation of a Virginia-based company, loved ones of inmates in the Harrison County Jail can now connect with them via video from the comfort of their homes.
All they need is a computer with a webcam and Internet access.
“It’s a neat concept that definitely saves the jail money and saves the taxpayer money, which is a nice thing,” Gary Humphries, president of HomeWAV, the creator of the service, said in a telephone interview.
The Harrison County Sheriff’s Office launched the new inmate video visitation program this week, becoming the first jail facility in the state to offer direct video visitation.
“Video visitation is the wave of the future for correctional facility visiting,” Sheriff Tom McCool said in a press release. “And Harrison County is proud to be the first facility in Texas to offer direct video visitation. The new system presents tremendous advantages in time and cost savings, as well as contributing to increased safety and security for our facility.”
Humphries, a computer scientist, said the jail became the first facility in Texas to offer the direct real-time video visits at the recommendation of Guardian Security.
“Guardian Security is our integrator for the state of Texas,” said Humphries, noting the company is the provider of Harrison County Jail’s surveillance and security system.
“We’re trying to be real selective,” he said, noting the county jail is the sixth facility to offer the service.
According to a press release, the new system allows family members and friends to schedule and conduct visits with jail inmates, using any suitable computer connected to the Internet. The new visitation system opens up available visitation hours from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week, expanding visitation from the previous two days a week with limited 20 minute visits.
“The visit works just like a phone call — no jail personnel are involved in connecting the visit. And unlike other visitation systems, there is no need to involve jail personnel to schedule visits in advance,” HomeWAV officials advised.
The cost to the visitor is only 50 cents per minute, which is typically less than a collect phone call, officials noted.
Sheriff McCool noted that there is no cost to the jail or to taxpayers for the equipment or installation. He said maintenance is covered, at no charge, for the life of the contract. According to the press release, the system is expected to greatly reduce overall personnel costs for the jail by making the visitation process simpler and safer for all involved.
McCool said since the installation of the HomeWAV visitation stations in the day rooms for the inmates, early feedback from both inmates and visitors have been positive.
“Our inmates feel more connected to their homes and families, and this has a positive impact on morale and behavior,” the sheriff said. “Their family members are spared the expense, inconvenience, and emotional distress of coming into the jail to visit.
“Let’s face it, visiting a loved one in an institutional environment, with the inherent security requirements, can be an unpleasant experience for anyone, especially children,” he said.
The visitation stations at the jail consist of a telephone handset, keypad, webcam, PC, and video monitor.
Humphries said other states that have had facilities launch the program include Kansas, Washington, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee.
“It’s been pretty exciting,” said Humphries, noting families from as far away as Mexico have raved about the program, sharing how it has helped them stay in touch with their incarcerated loved ones. “It’s really been amazing for families because many facilities don’t allow children inside (to visit).
“This keeps families connected,” said Humphries.
He said he developed the direct video visitation system after meeting with officials in the state of Virginia.
“They said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we had a Skype (type system) for jails, and we went to work,” Humphries recalled.
He said the company’s patent-pending system is the most innovative and advanced web-based visitation system of its kind and the only one with no direct or indirect costs to the facility.
“It was designed with guidance from jail administrators, with the facilities’ needs and operation uppermost in mind, rather than trying to make jails operate around the requirements of the visitation system,” said Humphries.
According to the company, since its launch in January, HomeWAV has successfully managed more than 10,000 calls and 100,000 visitation minutes, with facility personnel and users giving it high marks for ease of use, reliability and security. Officials said the system is being marketed to municipal, state and federal correctional facilities and is in use nationwide, from coast-to-coast.
Humphries said, through the system, they hope to give families hope, keeping them bonded.
For more information about the system, visit HomeWAV’s website, homewav.com.Read More...
By Dave Forster
August 2, 2012
It’s not the newest social media craze, but it could be a big hit in the jailhouse: video chatting with inmates.
Such a service is about to go live at the Portsmouth City Jail under a deal between Sheriff Bill Watson and a Virginia Beach company. As early as next week, inmates will be able to use a computer to talk to a loved one via webcams for 50 cents a minute.
Proponents say it will be good for taxpayers and the incarcerated, and Portsmouth’s jail will be the first in Virginia to offer it, said Watson and his partner, HomeWAV. Other facilities are exploring it.
“We’re definitely going down that path,” said Ashley Lanteigne, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office.
Virginia Beach already has received demonstrations from HomeWAV and other potential providers, she said.
The service is touted as a cost-saver because it cuts down on the time it takes staff to transport and supervise inmates and their visitors during on-site meetings.
It also gives more people a chance to see a relative or friend who’s serving a sentence or waiting to make bail. Visitors to the Portsmouth City Jail must be at least 12. Others may be too old or frail to visit.
“They can talk to the children; they can talk to the elderly mother,” said Lt. Lee Cherry, a Portsmouth sheriff’s spokesman.
Paula Miller, a spokeswoman for the Norfolk Sheriff’s Office, said her agency is in the early stages of considering its own online video visitation system. But there are concerns, she said. Among them, deputies give up control over the person on the other end of the conversation.
Gary Humphries, the company’s founder and CEO, said visits can be terminated immediately if the online visitor does or says something inappropriate. The chats are recorded, he said.
Some jails already have done away with the traditional visitation rooms so often depicted in TV and movies, where inmates sit behind a glass partition and pick up a telephone to talk to their visitor. Norfolk and Virginia Beach allow visits by video only, with systems that still require both parties to be on-site.
The state’s Department of Corrections offers another kind of video visitation program. It partners with two nonprofits that have six locations in four cities, including Norfolk, where people can go to make a video visit with a prisoner. Those visits cost $15 for 30 minutes or $30 for an hour. The fees cover costs for the nonprofits, according to the Virginia Department of Corrections website.
Portsmouth’s Sheriff’s Office will get a portion of the proceeds of its new service. HomeWAV has provided 26 monitors and is covering the costs of installing and operating the system, Humphries said.
When the service begins, inmates will be able to place a call to the computer of an approved visitor. Most of the jail’s monitors will be open between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m., compared with the current three-hour evening window for on-site visits, Cherry said.
Portsmouth is HomeWAV’s sixth contract, Humphries said. Its first partnership, with a locality in Kansas, has produced 5,471 calls and more than 55,000 minutes of video chats since it started in January, he said. That 100-inmate facility is less than a quarter of the size of Portsmouth’s City Jail.Read More...