Prisoners to use audio visual technology to contact families

Prisoners are set to be able to use audio visual technology from inside prisons that will allow them to have video conferences with their families, a first for the New Zealand prison system.

Inmates at the Hawke's Bay Regional Prison could be first in line to use video conferencing.

George Massingham says, “It's a new technology for Corrections, so we're getting used to it, not all prisons have had this technology built yet.”

He's talking about the Audio Visual Suite which was piloted in 2011 in the courts as a cost saving measure.

Massingham says, “The audio link is set up so we can have a safe and secure environment for a prisoner to have a court appearance without leaving the prison.”

Now that same technology is set to be used by inmates to make personal video calls to loved ones.

The suite is completely sound-proof, but security cameras will still monitor the calls.

Sam Lotu-Iiga says, “It is shown when they have strong family support that they're in better shape for reintegration and rehabilitation.”

It is expected that once policies are formalised it will be rolled out towards the end of this year.