States use videoconferencing for prison health care

John Gramlich of the state policy-focused nonprofit news organization Stateline.org reports that more states are using videoconferencing for inmate health consultations to avoid the cost and danger involved in transporting a prisoner outside prison grounds.

Gramlich’s research spans the nation and covers a range of technologies and implementations. Texas is a national leader in the practice; Illinois is considering jumping on the bandwagon. Georgia primarily uses video conferences for psychiatric evaluations and Connecticut’s just getting started.

The remote conferences are generally relied on for consultation rather than treatment. Some states allow “virtual visitation” through video conference in family court, a practice that may spread to prisons as well. There are some fears that limited face-to-face human interaction could have a psychological effect on prisoners, but for now the decreased cost and increased safety and convenience seem to be winning out.

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