Covington County sheriff looking to introduce ‘facetime’ technology for inmates

‘Facetime’ may be coming to Covington County Jail

COVINGTON COUNTY, AL (WSFA) - Sneaking in contraband is not unusual in county jails and prisons. Former state trooper, and now the sheriff of Covington County, Blake Turman recalled a situation in which an inmate literally dug a hole in the bottom corner of the window in the visitation room to get his dope.

“And they were passing pills through here and everything without anyone watching," he said.

The sheriff believes he can prevent future exchanges with the new ‘facetime’ program.

“I’m excited about seeing this. It’s like Skype. The military has been using this for years," he said.

Using the latest technology, kiosks will be set up in cell blocks so inmates can have face time with relatives. Turman has already presented his idea to county commissioners. No vote was taken this week but the sheriff is confident he has their support.

“The next commission meeting I anticipate them voting on it," said Turman.

The cost? $70,000 for the machines but no cost to the county. It’s a matter of re-working the current contract with the company that provides telecommunications in the jail.

“The person calling the inmate will actually end up paying for it," he said.

17 county jails in Alabama have a kiosks program for inmates. There’ve been no major problems reported so far.

“And will we monitor what’s being said. This will also take the load off our jailers in needing to move inmates around during visitation hours, so there is a safety component to this," he said.

Facing off with the latest technology, Turman is convinced this is the way to go in the name of safety while continuing the connection to the outside world for county inmates.

Turman said he has no plans to get rid of the program allowing family members to visit inmates at the jail.

Some 200 people visit relatives in jail every weekend, according to the sheriff.

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