(KYTX) - With expansion projects recently completed at the Smith County Jail's Low-Risk Facility, located off of Highway 69 North, officials with the Smith County Sheriff's Office recently unveiled a new video visitation service at the facility that now connects visitors with inmates at both Low-Risk and the Central Jail downtown.
A new kiosk is also now available that allows visitors to post bonds online and deposit funds for inmates to access for commissary purchases.
Now, all visitors will travel to the low-risk facility to use one of the 30 private video screens and phone handsets for inmate visitation. Previously, visitors traveled to whichever location housed the inmate they wanted to visit.
"Technology has allowed most of us to communicate through computers, smart phones, iPads and other devices. This same comfortable form of communication is now available to those who want to visit with inmates at either jail location," said Sheriff Larry Smith.
Visitation hours remain the same, but all visitation now takes place over a private, secure video link instead of in person. Sheriff's Office officials said the change streamlines the 20-minute visits and provides easier parking for visitors.
A kiosk is now located in the visitor's lobby at Low-Risk that provides visitors the capability to go online and post bond for an inmate or deposit funds that an inmate can access for commissary purchases for items such as snacks, drinks and sundries.
Smith said the new system, including five stations that are built to accommodate those in wheelchairs, went online March 14. Currently, only 20 of the 30 visitation booths are available pending the installation of the last of the communication links. The remaining 10 will be in service soon.
The video visitation system and online kiosk were provided for and funded through the new jail construction project.
The deputies who previously manned the visitor's desk at the Central Jail downtown are now available 24/7 at the Smith County Sheriff's Office administration building, located at 227 N. Spring Street to answer questions and assist the public.
About Smith County Jail Visitation:
Visitation is established for visitors to communicate with inmates who are incarcerated in a Smith County jail. All visitors must go to the Low Risk facility, located at 2811 Public Rd, Tyler, Texas.
Visitation for Women is Monday, Thursday and Saturday
Visitation for Men is Tuesday, Friday, Sunday
Visitors must sign up at the Low-Risk facility the day of visitation between 12:30PM and 4:30PM
Visitation is 1PM to 5PM
Visitation is limited to 20 minutes