DANVILLE — Starting today, the Vermilion County Sheriff's department will offer video visitation services for inmates housed at the Public Safety Building.
Sheriff Pat Hartshorn said free visitation will be available at the Vermilion County Health and Education Building, 200 S. College St., which is just down the street from the Public Safety Building. Visitors will be assigned to a video terminal at the building, connected to a device inside the county jail.
For those who don't wish to travel, Hartshorn said they also can remotely visit from home using a computer with a webcam device, a tablet or a smartphone through the company that provides the visitation service.
According to Hartshorn, the introductory promotional rate for a remote visit is $5 for 20 minutes, which will remain active through the end of the year. After Dec 31., Harthshorn said the price will increase.
While free visitation is only available once a week, Hartshorn said the public can conduct as many remote visits as they want.
He also added that there will no longer be in-person visits. From a security standpoint, Hartshorn said video visitations will be extremely beneficial to the sheriff's department, and will reduce the amount of manpower involved in providing visitation services.
According to Hartshorn, they will no longer take citizens inside the secured facility, and they will no longer remove inmates from their cellblocks and take them to other locations for visits.
"Every cell block will have a video visitation device in it," Hartshorn said. "The inmate will never leave a cell for a visit."
Before, Hartshorn said three or four officers were needed to escort inmates around for visitations. Beginning Wednesday, only one officer will be involved at free visits conducted at the county health and education building.
Those wishing to conduct a remote visit or schedule a free visit can access the following website: www.videovisitanywhere.com . For those wishing to attend free visits at the Vermilion County Health and Education Building can park in the west parking lot and enter through the door marked "County Visitation."