VIDEO VISITATION IN PRISONS FACT SHEET

1) This bill, H.R.6441: Video Visitation in Prisons Act of 2016, sponsored by U.S. Representative (now Senator) Tammy Duckworth requires the Federal Communications Commission to promulgate regulations for video visitation services that allow inmates to make video calls to individuals outside a correctional facility, but would require the Federal Communications Commission to ensure that correctional facilities that have video visitation services do not ban in-person visits.

2) This legislation would Amend FCC regulations on inmate calling services as necessary, to ensure that all charges and practices are just and reasonable. The regulations must include: caps on rates charged by service providers, a prohibition against charging flat rates, a prohibition against a provider requiring a correctional facility to restrict in-person visitation as a condition to providing a calling or video visitation service, a prohibition against the provider offering bundled services that include non-communications services, and video quality standards.

3) The federal criminal code is amended to require the Bureau of Prisons to ensure that: video visitation does not supplant in-person visitation; privacy is maximized in the video areas and equipment; no persons other than corrections officers have authority over the terms of a prisoner's imprisonment, including visitation schedules or the ability to move within a correctional facility; and service providers provide a list of each video visitation and each fee charged to visitors and prisoners, offer free visits based on good behavior if authorized by the correctional facility, and submit quarterly compliance reports.

4) Although video visitation is an important option for people with physical illnesses, disabilities, and limited time and finances, in-person prison visits help incarcerated people to maintain vital relationships with their family members and loved ones on the outside.
Studies show that inmates who get personal visits with family are less likely to return to prison after release.

5) A coalition comprised of the ACLU, Prison Law Office, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children and Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice said in a letter to the California Board of State and Community Corrections that in-person visits result in fewer disciplinary problems among prisoners and lower recidivism rates.

6) Nationwide, an estimated 2.7 million children have an incarcerated parent, but 5 million children will experience parental incarceration at some point during their childhood.