June 16, 2017: LOS ANGELES TIMES - California jails will have to provide face-to-face family visits for inmates under state budget deal

June 16, 2017

California county jails would have to provide face-to-face family visits for inmates under a budget plan approved Thursday by state lawmakers.

Over the last five years, an increasing number of jails and prisons across California and nationwide have moved to offer Skype-like video visits through phone and computer screens. But some jails have used the video systems to replace on-site meetings that have traditionally occurred through a glass window.

In approving the state budget Thursday, lawmakers in both chambers voted in favor of a measure that would require all but eight jails to provide space for in-person visitations. The exempted facilities would have to provide the option within five years.

Under the budget bill, counties would not be allowed to charge for the first hour of video visitation or to charge at all when that video visitation takes place at the jail.

Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed similar efforts in a bipartisan bill last year, pointing to the development of new state agency regulations under way. But at a joint legislative oversight hearing in February, public safety subcommittee members scrutinized the new rules, saying they went against the governor's directive and the state's rehabilitation goals. 

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