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Jail may get new phone system
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A contract with the telephone system provider at the Dawson County jail has expired and officials are looking at a new system after receiving several complaints from inmates families.

Maj. Jeff Johnson of the Dawson County sheriff's office made a presentation to the local board of commissioners April 23 and shared

details about a new system with Inmate Calling Solutions, LLC (ICS).

There will be several new benefits," Johnson said. "We expect to see decreased costs for those incarcerated, increased usage, improved customer service and internal procedural changes, which should result in greater efficiency and reduced liability.

The greatest benefit will be cost.

"There is no cost to the county for this service," Johnson said.

As far as costs to the inmate, there are several variables involved which impact fees.

"Currently the rates vary depending on a variety of factors such as local, long-distance, pre-paid, collect, etc.," Johnson explained.

While in the custody of Dawson County, making phone calls is both a right and a privilege.

"Obviously, legal access to courts, attorneys, etc. must be allowed," Johnson said. "Provisions shall be made to provide reasonable accommodations to telephones. Certain factors may affect their access such as individual discipline for institutional behavior causes, facility security threats, administrative purposes (head counts, maintenance), etc."

Board of Commission Chair Mike Berg offered his thoughts regarding the system.

"It is a vital communication service for inmates and their families," Berg said. "We have received several letters from inmate family members concerning the need for better phone service."

The board will vote on whether or not to approve the system at its Thursday, May 7 meeting.

If approved, the contract would take effect immediately and end Dec. 31 of this year. It would have four one-year calendar renewals if mutually agreed upon by the county and ICS.