FAIRFIELD — Solano County intends to let people visit with inmates at the Claybank and downtown jails by using the Internet.
The Solano County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved having the county sign a contract with the private firm iWebvisit.com. The Internet system, once installed, will allow people for a fee to visit with inmates without scheduling a face-to-face visit at the jail.
“I think this has been a long time coming,” Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Linda Seifert said.
About 2,000 visits by friends and families and 900 visits for professional reasons take place at the jails each month, according to a county report. The video system will allow people to visit inmates from anywhere in the world that has access to the Internet, it said.
Solano County won’t pay iWebvisit.com to install and operate the system, other than a $24,000 licensing fee. Rather, iWebvisit.com will install the system for an estimated $240,000 and recoup its investment through the fees charged for the Internet visiting sessions.
Fees are to be $9 for a 30-minute session and $25 for a 30-minute session done for professional, confidential visitors, the report said. In addition, iWebvisit.com will offer the county’s Public Defender’s Office, Probation Department and Health and Social Services Department and similar parties a flat, monthly fee.
On its website, iWebvisit.com lists 11 jails that have the system. The only one in California is the Riverside County jail.
The system will be more convenient for families, the county report said. Presently, it said, a person must travel to the jail to visit an inmate, sign up on a first-come, first-served list and wait for an available time and booth.
Also, the use of video for professional visits will reduce the need to transport inmates from the jail, the report said. The system will allow visits by use of a smartphone, tablet or computer, it said.
Solano County must develop procedures so that confidential visits, such as those between an inmate and lawyer, are not monitored or recorded, according to the proposed contract between the county and iWebvisit.com.
After iWebvisit.com recoups its investment in the system, the county is to receive a portion of the proceeds. This should come to about $20,000 annually, with money going to the Inmate Welfare Fund for such programs as drug counseling, literacy classes and chaplain services, the county report said.
Seifert expressed surprise that the Public Defender’s Office is to be charged the same fee as other agencies.
“If you come on site, it is still free,” Sheriff Tom Ferrara said.
The board gave Ferrara the ability to adjust the fee for the Public Defender’s Office after negotiating with iWebvisitcom.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.