Brown County Jail to allow video visits for inmates, families

Steve Nash
Brownwood Bulletin
Brownwood-Brown County Law Enforcement Center

Virtual visitation is coming to the Brown County Jail.

That means inmates and their families can visit with each other through video chats.

“It gives them a chance to have a visit virtually since the state still hasn’t lifted the restrictions on in-person visitation," Chief Deputy of Corrections Becky Caffey said.

The sheriff's office is switching to a new phone company next week that will provide the capability through kiosks and tablets that are shared by inmates, Sheriff Vance Hill said.

The new system will also change the way inmates receive mail. Mail will no longer be delivered to the jail, Hill said.

Beginning Wednesday, anyone writing to an inmate will send mail to P.O. Box 2994, PMB 60896, San Antonio, Texas 78299, Hill said. After the mail is received at that address, it will be uploaded and inmates will access their mail electronically.

"Once the inmate is set up with an account inside the jail, they’ll be able to view their mail and photographs after we approve the contents," Hill said.

Hill noted that the state has not allowed in-person visits in jails for the past 11 months because of COVID.

"It’s been nearly a year now that they’ve been sitting back there, or some of them, without the ability to visit with their family," Hill said. "So we’re going to get the video visitation set up and basically go pretty much electronic back there on inmate grievances and doctor requests. Everything’s going to be computerized now.”

The inmate or inmate's family will be charged for the video visits, Hill said.

Jail administrator Les Karnes said the system will set up video visits.

“It can be initialized on either side," Karnes said. "So if you want to schedule a meeting, you would enter that information."

He said the system will notify the recipient that a visit is desired, and the recipient can confirm or deny the request.

“The system will automatically set that up so that both log in at the same time," Karnes said.

Inmates will still have the option to make phone calls by buying time or calling collect, Caffey said.

Installation of the new system is expected to begin Tuesday and take four days to complete, Hill said.