Julio Naudin from the Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office visited 'Mornings With Ken and Bernie' today to explain the new prisoner video visitation program.  Video visitation at the Lafayette Parish jail is not new but this system is.  According to Naudin,

We've had a point-to-point system for some time where you can 'video visit' a prisoner but with a point-to-point system you had to be at the jail to visit a prisoner.  You had to come in and sit in front of a monitor and then we called the inmate then the connection was made and you got to visit.

The new system called 'Tel-mate' changes how visits are made.  Naudin said,

The system called 'Tel-mate' is fully digital internet based so what that means is you can do your visit from home or anywhere you have internet access and you have a computer with a camera.

According to Naudin there are several advantages to the Tel-mate system.

Visits can be scheduled anytime from 8:30am until 10:00pm seven days a week.  If you're having a birthday party at home for someone the inmate can be included with a video visit.

When asked about the cost of operation Naudin replied,

There is no cost to us.  That's the great thing.  There was no cost to the Sheriff's Office.  The company that installs this actually does the installation at no cost.  After a certain amount of time there is a cost involved.  You do have a certain amount of free time.  If somebody comes down to visit you get two free visits a week...For a small fee you get to visit from home.  In terms of money it's a small amount.  Profit was not the motive.  The motive was more access and keeping up with the times.

There is a lot more to the system including safeguards to prevent illegal activities.  You can hear more by listening to the interview: