New telecommunication system for inmates

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.

About The Author

Eduardo Santiago joined the FOX 9 and ABC 5 news team in February, 2012. That’s the same year KECY launched its very first local newscast. He has been covering local news in Yuma and the Imperial Valley since his start as a KYMA photojournalist in 2006. During his decade in broadcasting, Eduardo has covered some of the biggest stories in the Desert Southwest – from President Bush’s visit to Yuma, Ariz. to the uncovering of drug tunnels that span the US-Mexico border. One of the most memorable stories Eduardo covered was the 2010 Easter Earthquake that rocked the Imperial Valley, Mexicali, and Yuma. Eduardo, along with his news team, won an award from the Associated Press for best coverage of an ongoing story following the quake. Before he made his move to TV, Eduardo was just a kid born in East Los Angeles, where he spent his early childhood. His parents moved him to Mexicali, B.C. Mexico, where he did most of his elementary school education. He finally landed in El Centro, where he graduated from Central Union High School in 2005. Eduardo is currently a student at Imperial Valley College. You can find Eduardo hanging out in the Imperial Valley and Yuma with his family on any given weekend. His off-screen passion is playing guitar and sports.

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