The Daily Journal reported on the Video Visitation that will be coming soon to Cumberland County Jail. We knew it was a matter of time – it is a cost effective move that frees up CO’s for other responsibilities. Surrounding counties have already implemented these systems and are seeing new revenue and cost savings.
In Cape May County, jail prisoners or their families pay a fee to talk over the Internet through a video screen. Cape May County collected about $8,000 in revenue from May 2011, when the program there began, to January. Cape May County officials said they expect the earnings to increase to about $20,000 this year.
Video visitation allows family members to visit their incarcerated loved ones from their own city, via a video terminal. It saves them the trip to the jail, and saves jail personnel from the duties of having to process and search visitors. It broadens the visitation hours.
However, I personally have some concerns over the way that Cumberland is going about this. First, only churches will be allowed to host the terminals and visits.
Balicki said the decision to use churches is designed to create a situation where persons having an Internet visit with a prisoner are “supervised by good people.” He said the move is also designed to prevent Internet visits that could be related to things such as gang activity.
“I’m certain there will be less problems with church-regulated visits,” he said.
Has Balicki ever heard of the First Amendment? I have no issue with churches being allowed to host the visitations. The other issue is that this service will be offered free.
However, he said the program will be free for everyone except attorneys. Costs for the program will be covered by profits from the prisoners’ jail canteen, he said.
The decision to keep the program free is based on the fact that Cumberland County is the poorest county in New Jersey, Balicki said.
Possibly one of the reasons that Cumberland County is the poorest in the state is due to gross mismanagement by Balicki’s Democratic Party for more than three decades. Perhaps another reason we continue to wallow in poverty is that his party has embraced and invited 30% of the state’s inmate population in by relying on the building of prisons rather than inviting industry in the county. We help every other county by bringing in the families of their garbage (I am talking about the felons, and not the hundreds of people incarcerated over petty civil matters – that is another issue) and when prisoners are released they are given a list of county social services to assist them in their relocation to beautiful Cumberland…
Balicki says that profits from the jail canteen will pay for the service. Wouldn’t it be wiser to use those profits to offset the costs of operation the jail, and save taxpayers a few bucks? Wouldn’t it be better to generate even more revenue, even if not truly significant, to offset even more costs of jail operations?
Balicki’s man, Bill Whelan, is actively campaigning to increase property taxes in New Jersey’s poorest county. It is appropriate for the Chair of the Democratic Party to show a little less concern for the incarcerated, and a little more concern towards the taxpayers.