Drop fees for video, phone visits

The following Letter to the Editor was submitted to The Pantagraph by DSA Member Christopher Haines. You can read it as published on their website.

This is getting exhausting. We warned you back in March that COVID-19 would certainly reach the jail and now it’s here. Back in March, Sheriff Sandage refused IC Solutions’ offer for free video visitations for detainees in the jail to keep in touch with loved ones on the outside. Now those families are having to pay cumbersome fees to keep their jailed loved ones sane.

The county government isn’t immune to this travesty; it has in fact been complacent and enabling what amounts to barbarism on the part of dehumanizing men and women who are still innocent until proven guilty. Sandage’s officers and staff continue to walk through the jail, from cell to cell, bringing the worst-case scenario of a deadly virus from the outside world into a small, confined space inside into a harsh reality.

McLean County currently receives a minimum annual guarantee of $100,000, which increases based on the jail’s occupancy, as well as a commission of 72 cents per dollar paid by the loved ones of detainees calling them and half of all video conferencing fees.

The McLean County Board needs to stop profiting off of the inmates held in the jail. Eliminate the incentive to keep the jail occupied. What’s the best possible solution to that? Drop the fees of video and phone visitation. IC Solutions offered to make visitations free during the COVID-19 pandemic, so let them make it so.

Christopher Haines, Bloomington