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Some systems also are replacing face-to-face visits with friends and family who drive to jails.

Advocates also warn of the need to prevent vendors from overcharging for the service. So far, rates vary from 25 cents to $1.29 a minute, Wagner has found.

Wisconsin-based TurnKey Corrections, which offers remote video visitation at 50 jails around the country, including in Sandusky in northern Ohio, charges just under $6 for a 15-minute video call, said company President Patrick McMullan.

“It’s cheaper than driving to the facility,” he said.

While calling for competitive bidding before adding the service, Warren County Commissioner Dave Young said he liked the proposal because it could generate revenue.

“Again, this isn’t a hotel. This is a jail,” Young said. “Either you can afford to do that or you can’t.”


Information from: Dayton Daily News,