GUERNSEY COUNTY, Ohio (WTRF) A video visiting system necessitated by the pandemic has turned out to be a permanent feature at the Guernsey County Jail.

Sheriff Jeff Paden says family members of jail inmates can download a free app, and with 24-hour notice, can see and talk to their loved one behind bars.

“I’ve seen them sing happy birthday to their child, or find out how their wife’s pregnancy is going,” said Lt. Jim Stoney, jail administrator. “And it eases their mind, and makes them more content.”

Thirteen terminals have been installed in the jail, one in each cell block and one in booking.

They say family members like it, especially those from out of town.

They don’t have to arrange for a babysitter or gas up the car for a drive to the jail.

By using their smart phone, pad or home computer, they can visit from their living room or from their child’s softball game.

“And it didn’t cost the taxpayers a cent,” said Sheriff Paden. “It will actually increase county revenue.

The video visit costs the prisoner $12.99 for 20 minutes. It comes from their jail account. 

The family member signs up for an account, shows a government ID like a driver’s license and must pass a background check to show there are no warrants out for them.

They say the system was installed permanently and will continue long after the pandemic is over.

There is one set up in the lobby, in case a family member has no computer or internet access at home.

They say it eases the burdens on officers who used to have to deal with admitting visitors, checking for contraband and ensuring safe visits.

They say the system, Securus Video Connect, is a win-win for everyone.