IMPERIAL COUNTY, Calif. – Physical visits are a thing of the past at Imperial County Jail. Telmate is the newest way for inmates to communicate with their friends and family members at the minimum security dormitories, saving time and money for everyone with ties to those behind bars.
“If they come down to visit me they are going to waste for gas, food, lunch, and motel. So it’s cost efficient, you know?” said Carlos Lopez who has been at the county jail for 2-months.
The visits look like a Skype or Facetime call. Inmates and their friends and family are advised before the visit starts that they are being monitored and anything that’s said or done can be used as evidence in criminal or civil proceedings.
Lopez, is serving 8-months and has received visits from his son who lives in San Diego. According to Lopez, without Telmate, his son wouldn’t have time to come see him in jail.
“There’s people doing more time, doing 5 to 6 years. So, it’s great people who can actually see their family from somewhere else.” said Lopez.
Officers say installing the system was free. Telmate actually pays the county a fee for their system and inmates pay $15 per visit and smaller fees for e-mail and messaging. Some of that money stays at the jail and goes to the inmate welfare fund.
“They are able to exchange messages for a flat fee of 35-cents which could be a lot more cost effective rather than conducting a phone call or a visit.” said Cpl. Juan Galindo.
Officers say another one of the benefits of having the new telecommunication system is that they don’t have to worry about contraband coming into their institution from visitors.
“We no longer have officers being tied up pulling inmates to the location for their visits, they actually stay in their dormitories.” said Galindo.