7 Ways to Prepare for Your Upcoming Video Visitation

By Morteza SahebkarAugust 17, 2021

7 Ways to Prepare for Your Upcoming Video Visitation

Visiting a loved one who is incarcerated often comes with challenges, and the experience produces strong emotions that run the gamut from sadness to elation. Seeing the facility might feel foreign and seem scary, especially to kids. And saying goodbye to your friend or family member? That’s never easy. But supporting an incarcerated loved one makes sense for a variety of reasons — and with help from platforms allowing video visitation in prisons, it’s simpler than ever.

What are the benefits of routine video calls during incarceration? First, they strengthen the bonds between incarcerated parents and their children. In fact, research shows that the rate of recidivism goes down for prisoners whose friends and family stay in touch, meaning less likelihood of repeating the experience later. They also give incarcerated men and women the hope they need — and hope, of course, is key to their well-being.

Despite these advantages, some people find planning in-person visits nearly impossible due to travel constraints, financial worries, or over the past year, concerns about COVID-19. For that reason, visiting someone in jail over a video call has taken off as a viable and safe alternative.

So if you’re looking to have a remote video call with an incarcerated loved one, how can you get started?

Planning for Successful Video Calls With Incarcerated Friends and Family

If someone you care about is serving time right now (and going on-site is not an option), you might want to try remote video visitation for its convenience and continued connection. Before your first call, keep these strategies in mind for a more seamless experience:

1. Use trustworthy equipment. Nothing’s more frustrating than not having the right device for a video call. Test your laptop, tablet, or smartphone in advance to ensure the technology can weather a remote call. Likewise, don’t be afraid to ask someone for help if you’re not confident using the equipment or need a quick walkthrough of the video platform. Also, remember that phones without cameras (say, flip phones) won’t have the specs you need to make your call.

If you don’t have the technology at home to make these calls, consider visiting a friend’s house who does or an organization that loans out the right equipment (like a library). Please note that if you’re using HomeWAV and also borrowing equipment, you’ll need to be able to download the app and log into your personal account.

2. Choose your surroundings thoughtfully. Want a better give-and-take during the call? Set up your remote calls in a well-lit (not backlit) space. This makes it easier for your friend or loved one to see you. Also, be aware that sound can travel, and opt for headphones or earbuds if you think your background could get noisy. Above all else, avoid making calls from a car or bustling commercial location.

3. Pay attention to network connectivity. Bad connections happen — and that’s particularly true if you use public Wi-Fi, which tends to be of poorer quality than connections provided by most folks’ personal cellular plans. In the event of an unacceptable connection, make sure both parties wait a minute before calling back. This allows time for the system to refresh. If you’re having recurring issues with your home’s Wi-Fi, try calling when you’re the only household member relying on your internet signal (this also includes smartphones connected to the internet).

4. Make sure the HomeWAV account holder will be present on the call. Some facilities that monitor live calls will disconnect remote video visitation in prisons and suspend accounts if the account holder isn’t present in the frame (for example, a parent who’s an account holder leaving just their children in the video frame to chat). Likewise, they might discontinue a call if anyone besides the approved visitor appears on camera. Always review facility rules to avoid problems caused by unintended policy violations.

5. Dress for the visit per facility guidelines. The dress codes and activity expectations that hold up for in-person visits usually roll over into remote ones. With that in mind, remember that nudity, drug use, and even adult language are not allowed on a video visitation. Rather than risk losing the ability to chat with your loved one, follow these rules to the best of your ability. If you have questions about what’s acceptable, clarify before your call so you don’t make any mistakes that could sour your experience. When you’re ready to sign up for a HomeWAV account, be sure to carefully review the facility’s guidelines before completing that process. If you already have an account and need a refresher, check the facility’s website for policy guidelines. Generally, each facility will list basic information on HomeWAV, where to go to create an account, and a set of their own rules.

6. Expect and accept intense feelings. Visiting someone in jail is bittersweet for everyone, and you don’t know exactly how you’ll react. Nevertheless, you can be sure that strong emotions could pop up at any time. It’s healthy to express your feelings rather than hide them, but try to remain as positive as you can. End on an upbeat note, like promising to see each other remotely soon. Your optimism will help buoy the spirits of your family member or friend who can’t come home.

7. Keep children connected from home. Millions of children have an incarcerated parent, and asking a child to participate in a video call with them helps them to not only share in the visitation but also experience a precious moment of connection. To be sure, kids won’t always want to stick around for an entire call depending upon their age and ability to focus. Still, they can say hello and chat for a while — and that’s a blessing for everyone.

If you’d like to include kids, just be sure to get approval from the facility you’re calling before launching the remote call (some facilities require children to be registered for video visits). At the same time, ensure the account holder is on screen and navigating for the entire call.

The digital age continues to remove communication barriers in a variety of ways, including ones between those serving time and their loved ones. If you long to stay in touch with an incarcerated loved one who’s miles (or even states) away, why not try a video visit? If you’re looking to set up an account for inmate calls, create a HomeWAV account and add funds. The HomeWAV kiosk at the detention facility will let your loved one know when you or other visitors are available, and they can then initiate a call.

Interested in learning more about how HomeWAV can help you? Reach out to us today by clicking here!