Tremendous Savings' In New Inmate Visitation Plan
Porter County Sheriff
volunteer program at the Porter County Sheriff's Department is
expected to benefit the department and the community it serves.
have jailers monitoring visitation, but we would like to move that
to a volunteer system," says Porter County Sheriff David Lain. "The
savings, to the county will be tremendous."
used to have to move inmates securely to the visitation area, where
more jailers were needed to monitor both inmates and visitors. Now,
no longer do visitors meet face-to-face with inmates. Visitors are
signed in and seated at one of 40 visiting stations with video
monitors connected to a monitor in the inmate's cell block. "At
present we're paying a jail officer to oversee this area," says Lain
and that's just not necessary. "I speak to people all the time who
want to volunteer, and this is a great opportunity." Lain emphasizes
the visitation area is public and that all visits are via monitors;
no inmates are present, "so it's completely safe."
doing this to make our operation more efficient, to save money, and
to give people the opportunity to do volunteer work. And we can
re-assign jail personnel to take Lain says "it's a relatively easy
task." A volunteer sits at a desk behind a window. Visitors come to
the window, where the volunteer checks their names against a list,
signs them in, then assigns them to a booth with a monitor and makes
the computer connection with the inmate inside the jail. All inmates
remain in their cell blocks. Volunteers need to be available at
least 4 hours a week. Visitation hours are from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Mondays through Fridays and from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through
Thursdays; no visitation on legal holidays.
Volunteers need to be at least 21 years old,
pass a criminal background check, have no felony convictions, and
have neither family nor acquaintances incarcerated at the time of
their volunteering. "There is no danger involved and volunteers are
a phone call away from jail administration if they have a question,"
"This is going to be a great opportunity for
seniors, and for people with disabilities," says Lain. The facility
is ADA-accessible. Volunteers will need just a very basic knowledge
of computers; "It's a very simple program." All volunteers will be
supervised by jail administration. People wanting to volunteer can
pick up an application at the Porter County Sheriff's Department, or
an online application available at the Web site.