Published: Apr 05, 2011 2:08 AM EDT
Updated: Apr 04, 2011 10:59 PM EDT

How would you like to visit an incarcerated loved one from home? Well, if that person is in the Charlotte County Jail, now you can.

Inmates at the Charlotte County Jail can now visit with family members at home, via the internet. The jail already offers video visitation on the grounds, but now for a fee, inmates can visit with their families at home or across the country.

"If somebody is incarcerated here but their grandma is in Ohio, they can actually visit them in Ohio via their computers," said Charlotte County Sheriff Bill Cameron at a press conference Monday at the Charlotte County Jail.

The technology is a first of its kind for the state of Florida and it was paid for with the inmate welfare fund, which means it comes at a cost of zero dollars to local tax payers.

Montgomery Technology Incorperated from Alabama installed the video visitation at the Jail. They approached Cameron and offered to install this system for free in the hopes that it will catch on around the country and generate business for their firm.

But as with any new technology this technology comes with its own issues and the biggest one that seems to come to mind is how to prevent these visits from turning into virtual conjugal visits, but the Sheriff says his staff is fully prepared to deal with that.

"My staff will be having a screen that shows all the visits that are going on at any given moment so they can be watching," Cameron said.

This is not the first time that Cameron and his Jail staff have been in the news for creative money saving ideas at the jail.

Several years ago, the staff turned the retention pond in front of the jail into a fish hatchery where catfish are raised for consumtion by the inmates.

Inmates also raise hydroponic vegetables and have worm gardens.The waste from the worm gardens is used to fertilize the vegetable gardens.

Cameron also broke ground a year ago by selling advertising space in his jail.

"So far every thing we have tried has been very successful I think this will be the same," Cameron said. Right now the cost to schedule a visit with an inmate over the internet is about $33.

The revenue from that cost is split between the contractor who installed the system and the Inmate Welfare Fund at the jail.