Inmates in P.E.I.'s jails could soon have a new way of contacting their loved ones on the outside thanks to a proposed video visitation system.
Allan Curley, security divisional manager for community and correctional services, said inmates are less likely to re-offend after their release if they are able to continue relationships while they are in jail.
"That's part of our whole case management plan," he said.
Last month the province issued a request for proposals for a telephone call control and video visitation system for the provincial jails in Charlottetown and Summerside.
Under the current system, inmates are able to stay in contact with people outside the jail, but they can only do so by phone or someone going to visit them.
Each unit has a phone the inmates can use, but the person on the receiving end is billed for it like a collect call.
Those calls are recorded, with a few exceptions such as conversations with lawyers or MPs.
The other option is a visit at one of the facilities in a room where a piece of glass separates the inmate from the visitor and they have to speak through a phone.
Curley said attempts are made to place inmates in the jail that is closer to their home, but it doesn't always happen and some people might have to make a long trip for a visit.
But with the proposed video system visitors would go to whichever jail is closest to them where the equipment is set up for a video call if they didn't want to drive to the other facility for a visit, Curley said.
While it might be more convenient, Curley said it's not free.
"You as the inmate pay for it," he said.
Curley said whoever submits the successful proposal will install everything and collect fees for each call the inmates make, with a portion of that money going to the government.
"The taxpayer of this province doesn't pay one cent," he said.
Whatever the province gets in revenues from the calls will go into an inmate trust account, which is used for such things as GED training, magazine subscriptions and recreational equipment.
Curley said the successful vendor will also take over the phone system and the video calls will be recorded.
Like the current phone system, Curley said there will be strict controls in place.
Inmates have to provide a list of people they want to contact and each of them is vetted through victims' services and probation services to make sure the public is protected, Curley said.
"We put a great deal of emphasis on protection of society and it's all user paid."
Curley said the Justice Department will likely choose a proposal by mid-April and could have the system in place this summer.