Sheriff: Remote jail visitation no longer free

Norman announces that on-site videos will continue free of charge

Bill Spinks
Waxahachie Daily Light
Brad Norman

The Ellis County Sheriff’s Office has announced that remote video visitation for inmates at the Wayne McCollum Detention Center will no longer be offered for free.

Starting Sept. 1, the ECSO will no longer offer free remote video visitation sessions due to the current ability to schedule on-site video visitation, Sheriff Brad Norman announced. Remote video visitation will still be available at a cost of 30 cents per minute for 25 minutes, which Norman said is a standard across the industry.

“When I took office on January 1st there was an order in place by Governor Abbott that prevented on-site video visitation,” Norman said in a post on Facebook. “At that time, we had the technology to provide remote video visitation but it was not being utilized. I contacted our inmate phone provider and requested remote video-visitation capabilities be activated immediately. Our provider generously agreed to give two remote video visits to each inmate, each week, while COVID restrictions remained in effect, at no cost to the inmate or their families.”

Norman said remote video visitation has allowed inmates to visit with family in a way they have never been able to before. Remote video visitation technology allows for anyone with Internet access to visit inmates no matter where they are in the world. This technology removes the physical and geographical boundaries for family and friends to visit those they care about.

On March 2, Texas Commission on Jail Standards began directing counties to make on-site video visitation plans and submit them to TCJS for approval. As of March 29, Norman said, Ellis County began offering socially distanced on-site video visitation in addition to remote video visitation.

“We still offer two free on-site video visitation sessions with the social distancing measures in place today,” Norman said. “COVID-19 recommendations are changing every day and our ability for on-site visits may change in the future depending on Jail Standards direction. We will update you in the event that there are changes made to on-site video visitation.”