California State Sheriffs' Association says in-person visits cost too much

Posted at 6:05 PM, Sep 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-21 21:05:52-04
The president of the California State Sheriffs' Association says a measure that would force jails to let people see an inmate through in-person visitations is an "unfunded mandate."
"When you have one-on-one personal visitation, that's how contraband can get in, that's how guns and knives can get in, a cell phone, things that we don't allow in the facility," California State Sheriff Association president and Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said. "This isn't about cash, it's not about making money, it's about running a facility in a safe manner.
Youngblood says the measure is too costly an idea for jails to entertain. In California, some state jails offer video visitation in place of in-person visits.
The measure, still awaiting Governor Brown's signature or veto, would require jails that choose to use video visitation also allow in-person visits. The bill would also force any jail that doesn't allow in-person visits to do so by 2020.
Kern County is one of several California counties in the process of constructing a new jail.
The $130 million jail does not include an area for in-person visitations. Advocates for the measure argue jails exclude in-person visitations because of the money they make off the fee charged to use video visitation.
Sheriff Youngblood adamantly says he's unaware of a charge, and says the decision is based off of budget and safety.
"If there is a charge, I'm not aware of it, but if there is a charge, you have to weigh the cost of that against another 20 or 30 employees that are going to do this one-on-one visitation with inmates," Youngblood said. "I have 2,500 inmates in my jail and to give them one-on-one visitation is going to take a lot of staff that is gonna cost a lot more than video visitation."
The sheriff says contraband can't get into a jail through video visitations. he also says jails' budgets are being cut and because of that, they don't have the staffing to properly monitor in-person visits.