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State prison system to begin offering video visitation for inmates

Dylan Fereira

The Michigan Department of Corrections is rolling out video visitation for inmates during the pandemic.

It's hoped that will help inmates stay connected with loved ones they can no longer see in person.   

MDOC spokesman Chris Gautz says it could be a long time before in-person visits start up again, especially as cases on the outside begin to rise.

"We're kind of in a lull (with the number of cases)," Gautz says. "The last thing we want to do is introduce the potential for (the) virus to come in right now, especially when we seem to have a pretty good handle on it."

Gautz says there are two prisons with big outbreaks of COVID-19 right now, Muskegon Correctional Facility, and Marquette Branch Prison. But he says other prisons across the state correctional system have only one or two cases, for the most part.

Gautz says the video visits will be 20 minutes long and cost $3.20: the same as a 20 minute phone call. He says the goal is to start with seven prisons initially, and then make video visits available statewide.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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