CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Contact visits will be a thing of the past at West Virginia’s 10 regional jails beginning July 1.
Regional Jail Authority Director Joe DeLong told MetroNews Wednesday a temporary ban put into place earlier this year will be permanent in a few weeks. He said the privilege was being abused by inmates who used it to smuggle drugs into the jails.
“We had inmates who would come in with their loved ones and be able to give an embrace, a hug, and press the Suboxone strip up against the clothing and with the naked eye you couldn’t see it but the inmate knew where it was and would go back and remove the Suboxone strip,” DeLong said.
There were other instances of drugs being passed in a kiss and some being placed in babies’ diapers.
“There are very few jails across the country that allow contact visitation or who have ever had it,” DeLong said. “It’s a privilege not a right.”
The Regional Authority will offer expanded non-contact visitation time to take the place of visitation time. DeLong said there’s also a plan to allow video visitation from home.
“If they have a computer at home with a webcam they will actually be able to go on and sign-up and actually not have to come to the jail,” DeLong said.
The contact visitation areas in the 10 regional jails will be converted into space for new pre-parole programs set to be offered state inmates being housed in regional jails.
DeLong said in the end it makes since to eliminate the contact visitation in the interest of rehabilitation and safety.