by Peggy Breit
A new system for inmate visits and phone calls at the Wyandotte County Jail is increasing security, improving morale and it’s not costing taxpayers anything.
The new smartphone hookup called HomeWAV launched in early June. It allows inmates and families to have face-to-face connections without having to schedule visits.
Inmate Elliot London said it’s already a hit.
“It’s a good way to stay connected from home,” he said.
It’s also better for the detention center. Deputies still monitor conversations and can stop a call with the push of a button. Now, inmates can make calls out any time of the day or night.
“They get to see (family members) face to face and interact with them and even participate,” said Lt. Kelli Bailiff of the Wyandotte County Sheriff’s Department. “Let’s just say there was a little child’s birthday party. That person could call during the birthday party and kind of be a small part of what’s going on. That benefits the child.”
The company installed the system at no cost to Wyandotte County. Inmates and their families pay 50 cents per minute for the call, saving time and gasoline needed to visit. It also expands visitation opportunities to many more loved ones, such as those who are in hospitals or have trouble getting around.
The Wyandotte County Sheriff’s Office said the program is a win-win. The inmates are calmer and the detention center is better off.
“A big feature is the safety and security of our facility,” said Bailiff.
Wyandotte County actually gets a small percentage of the money from the video calls, money it plans to use to buy items like books and basketballs for inmate programs.