County hopes to upgrade jail video equipment

Staff Writer

Clay County hopes a new security and inmate phone system will save the county money, but first it must get out of its contract with the current service provider.

Supervisors gave Sheriff Eddie Scott permission Thursday to end the department’s deal with Inmate Calling Solutions, the current provider. The contract automatically renewed in January, and the county may now have to negotiate it’s way out if the company is willing. A new group, CTC Company, has offered the county a more attractive deal with better equipment.

The county is trying to get the new deal in place in time to coordinate with the opening of the new $2.9 million Justice Center in two months.

The old system relies extensively on paperwork if inmates want to place an order for medicines or at the commissary or to make phone calls. The same goes for family members adding money to inmate accounts.

The new system will eliminate “almost all” the paperwork, replacing it with technology that will alert staff and track records.

In addition, the new equipment will include video conferencing which will allow inmates to be arraigned from the jail, have court hearings and even talk to their family without having to be transported, Scott told supervisors.

“This reduces our paperwork, increases security, improves efficiency and emphasizes safety and better use of personnel,” Scott said. “We’re trying to get it all done and coordinated with the Justice Center.

“It could change the way we do business for a lot of things,” Scott added.

The county gets about 55 percent of the revenue from inmate calls and commissary purchases. The new company has offered the county a slightly better deal in addition to the better technology.

By state law, money from what is known as the “inmate canteen fund” must be pumped back into services for inmates, range from nurses and other medical services to exercise equipment, Scott explained.