St. Clair County OKs video visitation at jail

News-DemocratMay 16, 2013 

County officials have approved online video streaming between inmates and loved ones at the St. Clair County Jail.

The St. Clair County Sheriff's Department explored the idea as a convenience for inmates' families and as a way to make the prison safer. On Thursday, the county Public Building Commission unanimously approved a contract with Securus Technologies, based in Dallas, to provide such visitations. The commission oversees county-owned buildings.

The video visitations will not cost the county, according to the county's purchasing manager Tom Maziarz. Inmates and family members will be charged for the service and $300,000 worth of equipment will be installed in the jail at no cost to the county.

St. Clair County Sheriff Rick Watson and advocates with the nonprofit John Howard Association, which provides oversight of the state's prison system, have endorsed the idea.

Video visitation is available at some state prisons through kiosk machines or monitored visits through webcams.

In other news:

* The commission approved hiring Sixel Consultants, based in Eugene, Ore., for $15,000 to complete a grant application on behalf of the county. Sixel will seek federal money to help the county market passenger service from MidAmerica St. Louis Airport in Mascoutah. The commission previously hired Sixel in February to complete a market study.

* The commission approved the details of expansion plans at North Bay Produce and the Boeing Co. at the airport. The county previously issued bonds to pay for the expansions, though, the companies will pay back the cost of the bonds through lease agreements. An 18,000-square-foot expansion to North Bay's refrigerated warehouse is expected to cost about $3.6 million and the construction of a 700-square-foot mezzanine to accommodate more workers in the Boeing plant will cost about $121,000.

Contact reporter Daniel Kelley at dkelley@bnd.com or 618-239-2501.

Contact reporter Daniel Kelley at dkelley@bnd.com or 618-239-2501.

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