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Pilot video conferences help families connect with prisoners from a distance

August 2, 2013 | Telepresence Options

glenn holland pastor

Story by Greg Dohler / THE GAZETTE

The Beltsville Adventist Community Center is using video technology to help families keep in touch with their imprisoned relatives.

The center, which is less than a year old, installed video-conferencing software and equipment that family and friends can use to speak with inmates who are eligible to receive visitors at Jessup Correctional Institution.

"We're very excited to be piloting this," said Glenn Holland, community pastor for the center, which is operated through the Beltsville Seventh-day Adventist Church.

"We think this is better for safety, and it is easier on families in that they do not have to travel as far," said Martha Danner of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

Inmates are more likely to be successful after prison if they have strong family support, but many cannot make the journey for visits on a regular basis, Danner said.

"If somebody can visit from a remote location and maintain closer contact with the inmate, that inmate may well do better when he or she gets out," said Danner, the department's deputy director of community supervision support.

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