Pay it to say it - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Pay it to say it

Kiosk system allows Kootenai County inmates more visits, for a cost

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Posted: Thursday, October 27, 2011 12:00 am

COEUR d'ALENE - For the first time, the Kootenai County jail is allowing more than two visits a week per inmate, though for a cost.

To access more than the standard two free half-hour sessions in one week, a visitor or inmate must pay 25 cents per minute for extra visits, or $7.50 per half hour.

"For those who can afford to have more visits, they can pay for those," said Capt. Kim Edmondson.

Clergy and attorney visits are still unlimited.

The extra visits relate to new visitation technology installed at the jail this month. The county commissioners recently signed a contract to use Telmate equipment, which expedites visitor sign-up.

"It's common throughout other (detention) facilities," Edmondson said. "We have to make it more efficient here."

To acquire the costly technology, though, it needed to generate revenue on top of simplifying jail procedure, she said.

"If we were just to do it for staff efficiency, it would have been a very expensive process to go through," she said.

Hence the charge for extra visits.

Telmate has provided new equipment at no charge to the county, Edmondson said. Under their arrangement, 50 percent of revenue generated by extra visits and Telmate system fees will go to the provider.

The rest will go to the county, with some going toward commissary items like inmate bedding and clothing.

"Those are things we then don't have to use out of the budget, so it's not a cost to taxpayers," Edmondson said.

Under the Telmate system, folks can sign up for visits online at, by calling the provider's hotline at (866) 516-0115, or by using the new Telmate kiosk in the jail lobby.

There is a user fee for Telmate services.

The system allows folks to sign up at any time, Edmondson said, unlike before, when they had to drop by the jail at specific hours to sign up at the staffed window.

"The next phase of this will be Internet based visitation, where people will be able to visit from home," Edmondson said of using online communication.

The efficiency of the new sign-up system frees up staff to attend to other jail needs, Edmondson added.

It also allows for 16 daily visiting times, up from the previous six.

"It was very staff intensive," she said of the previous sign-up process. "With the new system that we have, it's taken away a lot of that hands-on time."

Telmate has also installed a new inmate telephone system at the jail. Visitors communicate with inmates through visitation monitors in the lobby.

Inmates can also now purchase commissary items through the visitation monitors.

Visitors can provide money for inmate accounts through Telmate's hotline and website, instead of going through jail staff. The kiosk accepts cash and debit/credit card payments.

"As soon as visitors get used to the new system, I anticipate it's going to work very well," Edmondson said.

The Shoshone County jail has never considered charging for extra visits, but the county doesn't have the population to warrant extra visits or using Telmate technology, said Capt. Rick Smith.

"We couldn't justify doing it," he said.

Lt. Jay Hughes with the Spokane County jail said his county might be looking at using similar visitation technology down the road.

There has never been a discussion about charging for visits, he said.

"I've heard of the concept of doing something to have visitors schedule visits, but I've never heard of anybody charging," he said.

For more information about the Kootenai jail, go to

Idaho Jail Standards requires each inmate, except those restricted as a result of disciplinary action, to have one hour of visitation each week.

There wasn't a demand for extra visits before, Edmondson added, but folks have been eager to sign up for them already.

"People are signing up for visits quite regularly, and they know that they're paying for those extra visits," she said.

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  • mother posted at 9:24 am on Sat, Jan 3, 2015.

    mother Posts: 1

    Telmate is insensitive and cruel. Yes I don't agree with committing a crime and sure jail time is a consequence but for family that have to live with this pain and then be double punished by not being able to see their child is beyond a nightmare. You cannot speak to your loved one without paying, you cannot see your loved one without paying, you cannot see them "the so called 2 free visits a week" without paying to talk to their child to even set up a time for the child to set up a time to see you because unfortunately unless you are a person who has been through this nightmarish system you have no idea how this awful thing works. I have had 2 anxiety attacks from trying to even set up the system. Last time I was being walked through the system by a Telmate representative and they TOLD me that the inmate has to set up the time and so my child was trying to call me and I asked the Telmate representative in my panic stricken state "should I hang up with them and get the phone call coming in or stay with them?!" and they said "it was up to me but you can just keep going through, what do you see" (as in what is on the screen), I'm trying to tell her everything I see the phone call stops and the representative takes me right back to the screen that I was on previously and I tell her it still says I have to pay for my first visit and she then says "that is righ,t the inmate has to set those free ones up." And so I tell her "Then why didn't you tell me to ask her when she was calling in?" And she said "I told you it was YOUR choice." How insensitive can you be?!! Rude and cruel is what I call it. We don't have alot of money so is it great that this system is set up that we cannot even get a free visit now with our child? In what state is it legal not to allow any free visitation to an inmate at least once? And now with this system, unless you have money you cannot speak to or see your child not even the 'so called 2 free visits'. This is wrong and a violation to peoples constitutional rights. Be afraid when your rights are violated, because it is not only the inmates rights but also the law abiding families they leave behind to be tortured by this Telmate system.

  • jcp6067 posted at 4:10 pm on Fri, Oct 28, 2011.

    jcp6067 Posts: 25

    Vulcher...if you are going to comment on someone elses should learn how to spell too. ENOUGH said??

  • Mac posted at 10:12 am on Fri, Oct 28, 2011.

    Mac Posts: 79


    You're right, my bad. I'm sorry I insulted you. What were you in for?

  • Vulcher posted at 7:43 am on Fri, Oct 28, 2011.

    Vulcher Posts: 3

    Only thing I would like to say is the Mac should learn to spell "loser" before attempting to insult inmates. Nuff Said

  • max power posted at 7:09 am on Fri, Oct 28, 2011.

    max power Posts: 559


    Maybe Comrade Barry Obama should appoint a "Telmate Funds Redistribution Czar." Money could be confiscated from well to do dirtbags and given to poorer dirtbags so they could all use Telmate services equally. This Czar could help create jobs by establishing a giant bloated government bureaucracy to administer the "Telmate Funds Redistribution Program." Let's not waste this opportunity to grow government. Call a Democrat libtard legislator today...

  • lyric21 posted at 12:22 am on Fri, Oct 28, 2011.

    lyric21 Posts: 169

    I agree with most of the comments. I don't have much use or sympathy for people who have committed crimes.

    BUT, something doesn't seem right about letting people pay so they can have more calls. Never mind whether the prisoners should even be allowed on the phone at all (maybe it reduces recidivism, helps their behavior in jail, whatever...) but for some people to get more calls because their family and friends have more money? Gee, what else can they pay for to get better treatment? 25 cents a minute is not insignificant for some people. How about a prisoner's family that doesn't have money because their loved one actually provided for them before they went to jail? I'm PROBABLY missing some point and would love for someone to enlighten me.

  • Randy Myers posted at 8:34 pm on Thu, Oct 27, 2011.

    Randy Myers Posts: 1635

    Don't fall on your rushes to judgment folks.

  • cdacapcom posted at 1:41 pm on Thu, Oct 27, 2011.

    cdacapcom Posts: 26

    When criminals = profits for a government, everything starts to become illegal.

  • TomKatt posted at 10:33 am on Thu, Oct 27, 2011.

    TomKatt Posts: 125

    max power said, "....Nothing says I'm winner like having a jailbird for your significant other...."

    Indeed. But worse yet, with the media glorifying the "gangsta" culture and generally trashy behavior (Jersey Shores?) females now prefer to mate with losers, so we can expect our next generation to be total slugs,

    But I'm probably being too harsh, considering this is Kootenai Co where people are arrested and jailed for littering, or the feeble minds of the justice system arrest and charge the wrong people, (like arresting Adam Johnson for defending himself instead of arresting the gang of cowardly meth-head scum who tried to beat him to death).....

  • squirrel nutkin posted at 9:44 am on Thu, Oct 27, 2011.

    squirrel nutkin Posts: 231

    You actually could make the same case for charging them for room and board. These people, on the whole, are an incredible drain on the taxpayer, in or out of jail.

  • apathoid posted at 9:37 am on Thu, Oct 27, 2011.

    apathoid Posts: 211

    Y'all are forgetting that there are NO guilty people in jail. I'm certain those lovely ladies are quite convinced they didn't do it...."Stand by your man..."

  • Mark on the Park posted at 9:27 am on Thu, Oct 27, 2011.

    Mark on the Park Posts: 471

    Snacks and chicks. It's good to be an inmate in Kootenai County .

  • kBled posted at 8:38 am on Thu, Oct 27, 2011.

    kBled Posts: 70

    Nothing says trash better than a reckless disregard for your fellow man coupled with an equally reckless disregard for recidivism rates and statistics in general.

  • jcp6067 posted at 7:58 am on Thu, Oct 27, 2011.

    jcp6067 Posts: 25

    Max and Mac...

    my sentiments EXACTLY!! wow...their parents must be SO proud...

  • Mac posted at 7:46 am on Thu, Oct 27, 2011.

    Mac Posts: 79

    Max P
    No Kidding,

    If I were stupid enough to maintain a relationship of ANY kind with someone that is such a fine upstanding citizen living in lockup, I would like to believe I'd be bright enough to NOT allow my picture be taken and plastered in the newspaper for all to see. They must be so proud. Looser is as looser does. Gawd I hope they dont breed. DDD

  • max power posted at 7:13 am on Thu, Oct 27, 2011.

    max power Posts: 559

    The captions under photo's one and two are priceless. Nothing says I'm a "Loser" quite like these gals using Telmate services to talk with a boyfriend and a fiancee. Good choice ladies. Keep up the good work. Nothing says I'm winner like having a jailbird for your significant other....

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