DearColleague.us

Letter

From: The Honorable Tammy Duckworth
Sent By:
Josie.Villanueva@mail.house.gov

Bill: H.R. 6441
Date: 12/7/2016

Bill would ensure access to high quality prison video visitation services at a fair price to help prisoners
and their families remain in regular contact members

Endorsed by:

The Prison Policy Initiative

Dear Colleague,

I invite you to cosponsor the
Video Visitation in Prisons Act (H.R. 6441). This criminal justice reform bill seeks to reduce recidivism rates and prevent unfair treatment of prisoners—and their families—by modernizing the largely unregulated prison “video visitation”
industry.

Studies show that prisoners who remain in close contact with family members achieve better post-release outcomes and lower rates of recidivism. Yet too often, prisoners and
their families struggle to maintain regular contact, whether through in-person visits, calls or “video visitation” – which essentially uses videoconferencing to connect individuals.

Unfortunately, the prison video visitation service industry is an unregulated area of commerce that often pairs low-quality service with exorbitant, cost-prohibitive fees
that prisoners and their families cannot afford. Even when these services are purchased, prison video visitation technology often offers a much lower quality experience compared to popular commercial alternatives, such as Skype or FaceTime.

The
Video Visitation in Prisons Act would help ensure access to, and fair pricing for, high-quality videoconferencing services that enable prisoners to regularly stay in contact with their families between in-person visits. This bill builds
on the Prison Policy Initiative’s recently released
report
and puts many of their recommendations into action. Specifically, this legislation would ensure:

  • Video visitation is used only as a supplement to, and not a replacement of, in-person visitation;
  • Video visitation service fees are affordable for families and prisoners; and
  • Prison operators provide a minimum number of free visits per month based on good behavior – a minimal investment with the potential to reap large dividends for families and
    the public in the form of reduced recidivism rates.

If you have questions about the
Video Visitation in Prisons Act, or wish to cosponsor H.R. H.R.6441, please contact Josie Villanueva at
josie.villanueva@mail.house.gov.

Sincerely,

Tammy Duckworth

Member of Congress