The Madison County Detention Center.

Over the past week, updates have been occurring at the Madison County Detention Center with the installation of a new inmate telephone system provided by inmate communication provider, GTL, to increase both connections between inmates and loved ones as well as safety.

“Starting today, GTL is the new inmate communication provider for the Madison County Detention Center,” said Jailer Steve Tussey in a press release sent out Tuesday. “This new, intuitive technology not only better connects friends and family members to their incarcerated loved ones, it also provides security and investigation capabilities to the jail that allows us to increase security and safety.”

The new technology will include an improved phone system, video visitation solution and inmate tablets, which will not only fund itself, but generate revenue for the jail, according to Jailer Steve Tussey.

It will do so through the money that people load onto an inmate's phone account leaving no cost to the jail.

Tussey said that there were a few reasons behind the update, including the exponential upgrade in technology since the implementation of the old system, as well as, the jail’s rapidly deteriorating infrastructure.

“I had the opportunity to shop and did and looked at numerous companies and this one (GTL) is the leader in these services and offered everything needed and what I wanted in this jail,” Tussey said.

A part of the improvements includes a new software system in the kiosks, and features that will allow inmates’ loved ones to send money through either online or a mobile device.

“The new system is more efficient and has more features, functions and is people-friendly, making it easier to use,” Tussey said.

He also said that this will do more of an automatic bookkeeping which will help free up the administrative staff. For inmates who had money loaded through the old system, that money is reimbursed to them and can be put on the new system.

Arriving next week are the tablets, which are a part of GTL’s Inspire inmate tablet program that will provide more extensive communication opportunities, entertainment and education applications.

According to Tussey, the biggest perk that the tablets will offer is the “video visits” which are similar to FaceTime.

“This is the biggest perk for families and it’s safer and easier for them so they don’t have to come to the jail,” he said.

He said that of the jails he has seen that have implemented this program in the past have helped tremendously for different reasons, the main being that it cuts down on foot traffic in and out of the facility.

“From a jail management view, this helps cut down on traffic and therefore contraband,” the jailer said. “The biggest feature that I want is to cut down traffic in jail and keep it down.”

Aside from that, the new tablet program will also offer educational opportunities to the inmates through different programs and applications like the GED or drug programming.

There is also a feature that gives incarcerated parents the ability to pick out a book and read to their child face-to-face through the tablet.

“This helps reintegrate the parent into family mode and makes them more successful in the future,” he said.

Reach Taylor Six at 624-6623 or follow her on Twitter at @TaylorSixRR.

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