Berrien County Jail offers new way to visit inmates

Published: Sep. 19, 2018 at 3:07 PM EDT
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Visiting loved ones in prison has never been easier than it is now in Berrien County.

Instead of picking up a tethered phone to see your loved one's face from behind bars, now all it takes is a quick trip to the internet to get in touch with those on the other side.

"They'll be able to do that remotely, from any place they can get to the website," Undersheriff Chuck Heit said. "So, it could be at their home, a library that allows the connection there."

And even farther than that. Anywhere with internet is free game, as long as you schedule 24 hours in advance and no more than 5 days before.

"Inmates were allowed one visit before," Heit said. "An inmate can have up to two visits a day and 10 per week."

But because with internet visitation you're not chained to the wall inside the jail, there's a little bit more freedom. That can be good, but then there are also bad things that come with the freedom.

"The one concern with expanding it outside from inside the jail is to make sure that the things are appropriate that they're seeing," Heit said. "S,o we do have the ability not only to cancel the visit at that time but then cancel someone's ability to schedule a visit."

This doesn't just create benefits for inmates; it also clears space up in the lobbies to make the jail more efficient.

"We've always had to assign a deputy to maintain the visitation lobby as that's happening," Heit said. "So more people take advantage of it, the better."

Now, this program is all live starting Wednesday, so if you need to see a loved one, you can schedule a visit at

Each visit will be limited to 20 minutes and it costs $10 for that time.