Three County Commission members said they were favorable toward a plan by the sheriff's office for video visitation with inmates at the County Jail.
The county's IT department set up video visitation at the county workhouse in 2004, but officials said it is less sophisticated than the system to be provided by the EdgeAccess firm.
The county jail system will allow members of the public to visit with county jail inmates from the comfort of their homes via computer. The charge will be 60 cents a minute for up to 30 minutes. The charge for a half-hour visit will be $18.
Chief Deputy Allen Branum said the best feature of the system is that it will eliminate much dangerous transport of inmates throughout the jail. He said correctional officers would be freed up for other duties. The number of officers involved in transport is set to go from eight to one.
Members of the public will still be able to come in and visit inmates at the jail at no charge.
Chief Branum said many may prefer to use their computers rather than taking the time and expense to drive downtown and pay for parking at meters or the county parking garage.
Don Gorman, director of administration at the sheriff's office, said EdgeAccess is willing to provide up to $350,000 in equipment to the county at no charge. He said the firm will get the first $42,000 in income and after that the county will get a 30 percent share.
He said the firm expects $62,000 in income the first year and for it to grow to $94,000 the second year, $125,000 the third year, $156,000 the fourth year and $187,000 the fifth year.
The equipment will belong to the county after three years. There will be 72 shatterproof visitation terminals with 58 to be installed in the cells and 10 in the current visitation area. There will be four mobile visitation terminals on the fifth and sixth floors for inmates in single man cells.
There will be a three-year contract with two one-year extensions.
The proposal is set to be brought before the full commission soon.