Ask any corrections officer what the most dangerous part of their day is, and they’ll usually tell you that it’s handling in-person visitations. The ability of prisoners to visit, face to face, with their loved ones has been upheld throughout most states. But this also represents one of the most serious security threats to the institution. In-person visitations are the time where contraband is most likely to be passed, violent conflict is most likely to erupt and corrections officers lives are most likely to be put at risk.
There are so many problems with in-person visitations that many wardens, throughout the history of the United States criminal justice system, have attempted to curtail them. One of the underappreciated risks of administering a visitation system is the necessity of moving inmates throughout the prison, from areas where they are normally housed into those areas where they are not. In America’s gang-infested prisons, this can easily lead to territory-based conflicts and violent assaults. More corrections officers have been seriously injured and even killed in the process of moving inmates throughout prisons than in any other aspect of their daily job duties.
But perhaps the most serious threats that in-person visitations present to the institution is the opportunity to move contraband within the prison. Many times, the visitors themselves will be complicit in smuggling things such as drugs, elicit cell phones and even deadly weapons into the prison. These things can and will be used by dangerous and violent criminals to hurt and even kill other prisoners as well as corrections officers.
Through its video visitation technology, Securus Technologies has dramatically reduced the number of in-person visitations that prisons need to deal with. This has been hailed by corrections officers as a major step forward and institutional safety.