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Commissioners Court hears update on in-person visitations

Wednesday, May 18, 2016 by Caleb Pritchard

Travis County inmates are enjoying face-to-face visits with their loved ones for the first time in years. On Tuesday, Major Wes Priddy of the Travis County Sheriff’s Office told the Commissioners Court that more than 470 in-person visits have taken place at both the county’s downtown jail and the Del Valle correctional complex since the program resumed in mid-April. Previously, inmates were allowed to talk to family and friends only through video uplink, a policy Sheriff Greg Hamilton overturned last year with financial help from the court. In his Tuesday briefing, Priddy again sought the court’s assistance, this time in the form of approval of a $74,500 contract with Securus Technologies to provide scheduling software to streamline the currently inefficient process of pairing inmates with their visitors. Commissioner Gerald Daugherty expressed his concern that increasing the number of plexiglass assignations could burden the sheriff’s budget by leading to more overtime for protections officers. Priddy conceded that Daugherty’s concerns were legitimate before County Judge Sarah Eckhardt reminded him — and the rest of the court — that in-person visitations were restored not only under the pressure of local activists, but also as a matter of conforming to new rules set by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards. Soon after, the court unanimously approved the contract with Securus.

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