Today, the Travis County Commissioner’s Court voted to restore in-person visitation and re-evaluate the use of video visitation in the Travis County Jail. Since 2013, video visitation through the Securus system is the only way for inmates to connect with their families and children. I applaud the Travis County Commissioners for restoring in-person visitation to our jail.
The purpose of jail is not just to simply punish, but to rehabilitate members of our society. We need to decrease our jail population and work to keep people from re-entering the criminal justice system. Restoring in-person visitation is a part of the solution.
Studies show there are mental health benefits to in-person visitation. Recently, the Austin Chronicle ran a story on Athena Covarrubias, an inmate believed to have committed suicide in mid-August. Athena’s family believes the lack of in-person visitation contributed to Athena’s mental state at the time she committed suicide.
Additionally, recidivism rates decrease when inmates are allowed in-person visits. Keeping inmates connected to their families keeps them grounded and provides a continuing network of support to rely on once they are released. You can read my plan to restore in-person visitation and smart jail strategies here.
The issue preventing restoration of in-person visitation in our jail is simple – funding. Funding for today’s vote restoring in-person visitation will come internally from the Sheriff’s Office. We as a community must come together to send the message that our law enforcement agencies should reflect our values.
Jail isn’t suppose to be fun, but isn’t suppose to be cruel either. The restoration of in-person visitation is smart policing and the humane thing to do. Join me.