Face to face inmate visits at the Bristol County House of Corrections are being phased out and will be replaced by video hookups.  The reason for the change, "safety and security."

Public Information Officer Jonathon Darling tells me visitors to the jail have found some pretty clever ways to sneak contraband into the facility.  Darling says SUBOXONE Film, an opioid, is a common item finding it's way into the jail.  Darling tells me SUBOXONE Film has been sneaked in under Band Aids worn by visitors.   He says some visitors have chipped paint and have hidden the drug in the wall for later retrieval.

Even though the inmates and visitors are currently separated by a sheet of Plexiglas during visits it's not enough to stop contraband from getting in.  Darling says there are no statistics on the amount of contraband coming in through visitation but says it is enough of a problem though to warrant concern.   Thus the new rules.

With the new video conferencing system visitors will interact with inmates from  a nearby trailer using video cameras and monitors.  The new system should be up and running in about as month.

Keeping drugs and other contraband out of prison facilities has long been a problem.  On Ash Street drugs were often stuffed inside rubber balls and thrown over the walls into the courtyard where prisoners  would retrieve it.

Keeping prisoners and staff members safe from an ever growing  threat of outside violence is essential.  Drugs are more easily smuggled than ever.  Denying inmates a face to face visit is a small price to pay to protect the general prison population.  Today's technology allows for a quality visit between inmates and family with considerably less risk involved.

I believe the video conferencing is a good idea but what do you think?

Editor's Note: Barry Richard is the afternoon host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from Noon-3pm. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.