Two research projects by the Vera Institute of Justice may shed light and offer critical insight for correctional officials on best practices for inmate visitation procedures in the areas of juvenile populations and video visitation technology.
Vera, an “independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit” organization, claims to combine “expertise in research, demonstration projects, and technical assistance to help leaders in government and civil society improve the systems people rely on for justice and safety,” according to its website.
In its study released in April titled “The Impact of Family Visitation on Incarcerated Youth’s Behavior and School Performance,” the organization found that there was an apparent correlation between the number of visitations a juvenile offender receives from family and their grade point average (GPA) and recorded behavioral incidents.
In particular, the research found that the GPA for juveniles who never received visits was 80.4, compared to 85 for those who received frequent visits. Additionally, youth offenders who received no visits averaged 14 behavioral incidents per month, compared to just four for those who were visited frequently.
The numbers are significant and show the importance of support systems while younger inmates are incarcerated. The study didn’t indicate, however, whether video visitations – visitations that occur online between two parties at separate locations – were included in the study. This method of visitation has increased during the past few years and is becoming a common alternative for family members to visit with loved ones in prison, especially when the offender is incarcerated at a location far away from home.
Interestingly enough, video visitation is the subject of a current Vera study titled “A New Role for Technology: The Impact of Video Visitation on Corrections Staff, Inmates, and Their Families.” With this study, which began in January 2013, the organization is looking at “whether access to video visitation improves the nature and frequency of incarcerated people’s contact with their families and others who support them.”
The study “will also explore whether these contacts improve incarcerated people’s compliance with custodial rules and outcomes after their release from prison,” among other observations.
Based upon the significant findings of its juvenile visitation research, it will be interesting to see whether or not Vera finds video to be a viable replacement or supplement to in-person visitations, which the organization says, according to research, “are integral to managing incarcerated people’s behavior, reducing recidivism, facilitating reentry into the community, and promoting positive parent-child relationships.”
Norix Furniture is interested to find out what the new research will say about video visitation. In the meantime, our belief is that while contact visitation can effectively support families, time, money and distance doesn’t always allow for such visits to happen frequently and video visitation is a good tool for increasing the number of visits.
A provider of products to the correctional industry for more than 30 years, Norix offers equipment to facilities looking to incorporate or replace current video visitation technology into their operations. Our line includes:
Dustin Coleman is a brand journalist for Norix Furniture and a contributor to the Safe Environments blog.