JPay Blog

Video Visitation Contest WINNERS!

Congratulations to the three winners of the JPay Video Visitation essay contest: Derrick Simmons, Jeffery Greenwell, and Jeanne Slattery!

We received over 200 entries, and all of them were great!  Choosing the best three essays from this pool was a difficult but thoroughly enjoyable task.  We learned that Video Visitation means something a bit different to each of you, but that all of you value the time you spend talking face-to-face with your loved ones.

So after much deliberation, and without further ado, here are your winners!

First prize – a $25 Walmart gift card – goes to Derrick Simmons of Nevada for his clever and moving poem:

While on Jpay’s website completing a simple transaction;
I noticed an innovative way for families to have interaction.

For those with loved ones that are locked up across the nation;
It sounds like a futuristic tool to ease the pain of incarceration.

I checked and video visitation isn’t available in our state;
So, unfortunately for now, our family will have to wait.

But when we get the option to connect online with our brother;
His entire family will be so excited, but especially our mother.

She hasn’t seen her son in years and this would be the next best thing;
Watching them reunite with all the bittersweet joy that would bring.

So until that happens we will try to remind him he is not forgotten;
That even though he’s made mistakes he has value and is not rotten.

And although he’s locked up in his cell for twenty-three hours per day;
We’ll reach out through letters and one day video visitation from Jpay.

Jeffery Greenwell of Washington took second prize – $10 of JPay stamps – with this essay that highlights the difference between letters and video visitation:


For both those who are incarcerated and their loved ones on the outside, letters can provide great comfort. Receiving a letter or card in the mail brightens the day of inmates and loved ones alike. Though letters are always welcome, being able to see a loved one on the computer screen can bring even greater joy. Though I have not yet had the opportunity to take advantage of this service, I can imagine that the impact of words spoken aloud can be even greater than those written on a sheet of paper. Yes, inmates and their loved ones can send photographs, but those pictures freeze a moment in time. They are wonderful to have around as reminders, but video visitation allows for moving images. When I use the word “moving,” I mean both images in motion and images that stir the soul and that fill hearts with love and gratitude. Now people on the outside don’t have to guess whether their loved ones are all right; they can see it with their own two eyes. They can look in the eyes of the inmate so dear to them and communicate, both verbally and non-verbally, their hope for a better future. They can see the inmate’s confident posture a determination to press forward and hope for a better future. Interacting with a loved one in a dynamic, immediate, and vibrant method of communication that at its best can convey hope, love, and optimism to all involved–this is what video visitation means to me.


Last but not least is Jeanne Slattery of Louisiana, earning a third prize of $5 in JPay stamps with her moving story about her sister:


JPAY – I have a sister that I’ve been very close to my whole life, we finish each other’s sentences, share our joys and commiserate on our setbacks. We always had each other’s back and at times we knew we could only count each other to get through. I miss my sister.

Now that she’s incarcerted the communication (except e-mail) has stopped, the closeness is disappearing. I can barely remember the sound of her voice. She’s in my heart and thoughts daily when I see a book she’d like to read, a favorite food she liked, or hear a song from our past. I’ve heard a rumor that her facilty in Louisiana will be getting video visitation! Hopefully that’s true. Then I can see C, if she’s lost weight, is she looking tired or older? Is she healthy? I can hear her voice and see her blue eyes,and her new long hair.
As a senior citizen in Florida it’s far too expensive for us to plan a round trip to Louisiana for a four hour visit! Whatever a video visit costs us it will be worth every penny to see her and “be with her” to set our minds at ease. To help ease the worry. I haven’t seen my sister in two years. Being able to see her, even on a video visit may help our hearts to ache a little less. It’ll give us something to look forward to in the routine of our days.

Both of us are very old and my sisters’ sentence is long. It is possible that one of us will die without us ever having the chance to see each other again. I want to have video visitation memories so I can say “that she looked good, or happy the last time we spoke, the last time I saw her.” I want the memories to sustain me. I want to talk to her and have a little sense of normalcy returned to us, even if it’s just a short visit. I want to tell her I love her, and miss her, and I can say this directly to her in a video. That’s what a video visitation means. It means everything when your loved one is away. It’s a wonderful gift.

Congratulations to all three of our winners, and to everyone who participated in this Video Visitation contest!  We hope you get to see your loved ones very soon, whether it’s on the computer screen or in your arms!

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137 Comments

  1. JPayJT

    January 25, 2019 - 11:11 am

    Hi Chevy – At this time, there are no plans to implement JPay Video Visitation in TDCJ. If/when we launch new services, we will inform all customers. Thanks!

  2. CHEVY

    January 24, 2019 - 1:37 pm

    is TDCJ going to have video visitation my girl friend is locked up in Dayton Texas and i haven’t talk to her since October 2018 and that sucks i send her money every 2 weeks but its not the same since i cant talk to her its had because i live in new York and the last time i seen her was in July here in NY she gets out in march and i cant wait to see her!!!!!!!

  3. Editor

    October 25, 2016 - 9:56 am

    Hi Denesha – Please click on this link http://www.jpay.com/PAvail.aspx to see the JPay services and rates available at your loved one’s facility. If the tablet is available in your loved one’s state, you can log into your JPay account on JPay.com to see which options are available for you to purchase on your loved ones’ behalf. The following link http://offers.jpay.com/jp5-tablets/?utm_source=hootsuite will provide more information on the JP5 tablet.

  4. Denesha

    October 21, 2016 - 6:33 am

    Hello im new to this. I wanted to know it this is available in the facility where my loved is. And if so, how much does it cost to buy the tablet device for them. How does it works? Please reply back thanks in advance

  5. Editor

    September 29, 2016 - 8:46 am

    Hi Rosemary- Video Visitation is not available in the state of Oklahoma.

  6. Rosemary

    September 27, 2016 - 1:02 pm

    Is video visitation available in Oklahoma?

  7. arlee

    July 12, 2016 - 6:55 am

    If I could have just one thing it would be to have a video visit with a man I never go to say goodbye face to face only paper it will never leave my mind I need his smile and to see his lips speek the word goodbye not forever just for now and everything with be ok his daughter needs that more than I do but it would be a blessing like no other

  8. Latonia Brooks

    March 25, 2015 - 12:56 pm

    My only son was taken from me at the age of 16he is now 35 Christoper I love and miss you so much keep your head up stay strong there will not be a day that you are not missed love you from the top to bottom of my heart your mom.

  9. Editor

    January 27, 2015 - 11:22 am

    Hi Karen –

    Please be aware that your loved one does not have access to the Internet, including this blog.

    The best ways to contact your loved one is to send an email (even with an attached photo or video) or schedule a video visit. Please click on this link http://www.jpay.com/PAvail.aspx to see the JPay services and rates available at your loved one’s facility.

    Thank you for contacting JPay. Have a nice day!

  10. karen rhea

    January 26, 2015 - 2:34 am

    I miss my baby girl so much! Brandi, I can’t wait till you are home again, it’s been 5 rough months for me, I can only imagine what it has been for you. I know that in all of this that we will have a testimony to share with other young ladies, who may get caught up in similar situations, there is a reason for everything, and we just may be able to help save another innocent girl. Stay strong and focused on GOD. You will be home soon. Hopefully, I can figure out video visitation and see you real soon…Love ya.
    Mommie

  11. mia armijo

    January 19, 2015 - 7:17 pm

    I love JPay so much, I’ve been using it for almost 5 years to write to my boyfriend. It makes it so much easier to keep in contact with him with him being so far away from us. His kids don’t get to see him as much so I wish they had video visitation in our state. Hopefully, by time they get it he will be home, but I just want to say I’m so grateful for this site and I would be lost without it.

  12. Editor

    January 16, 2015 - 11:39 am

    Hi Rowena,

    Thank you for interest and enthusiasm in bringing Video Visitation to your loved one’s facility. Once the service is added, you can schedule your visit online at http://www.jpay.com. Please be aware we are constantly working to bring our services to every state and we will make sure to communicate any updates. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Have a great day!

  13. Jasmine

    January 16, 2015 - 8:30 am

    I have a love one in prison that has been away from me since feb,2012 at the time i was 6month pregnant with his first daugther and my very first child. I visit him the day before i went into labor 2 weeks later i took my child to see him. As of today my daugther is 2 1/2 yrs old and has never once laid eyes on her father. She knows his name clearly and understands who her daddy is. I work day and night to provide for my baby so i dont have time to travel where he is right now. Seeing him and giving my daugther a chance to meet her daddy would mean the more then anytime to not only me and him ,but for her as well. Thank u

  14. Editor

    January 15, 2015 - 1:36 pm

    Hi Rmoreno,

    Most prison lists are up to date within 3-4 days. You can check at the follow link https://www.jpay.com/ with your loved one’s Inmate ID #. As soon as you locate your loved one in our system, you can schedule a Video Visit. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Have a great day!

  15. Rowena Ayaton

    January 15, 2015 - 12:44 pm

    I haven’t seen my brother for more than 5 years now and haven’t talk to him as well since we are million miles apart (I’m from Philippines). I only get to send him money and send e-mail via Jpay.com and I am great full to this system. I am just wondering if when can I get the chance to see him at least through video visitation? As per my inquiry thru Jpay, video visitation of the selected Inmate does not have Permission (How to request video visitation permission?)

    Hoping for your reply. Thanks!

  16. rmoreno

    January 14, 2015 - 11:27 pm

    Hi my son just got transfer to washington state correctional center I haven’t talk to him for 3 months. By any chance does anyone knows how long it takes for them to give him the chance to do a video visit? Is there a process that they have to go throug?

  17. nelda perez

    January 14, 2015 - 8:00 am

    I would love to have a video visit my children dont get to goa see there father but maybe once every 6 month the best contact they can get is on the phone ir would be nice to see his face thank you

  18. pam, mcpherson

    January 13, 2015 - 9:18 pm

    I thank God for jpay. without it i would not be able to keep in touch with my son. who has been in prison going on 10yrs. when he first got locked up, i had not seen him for over 5 years. then someone told me about jpay. and the emails you can send…then came the video visits..i was like thank God. we email 2-3 times a day. and do regular video visits, it is so much fun to see, and talk with him. not as much as being there, but just as good. he gets to chat, and see other family members,and watch the kids getting bigger. i just pray that all the prisons can do video visits, it’s so great for them, and for the family. i pray he will be home soon. and they move him closer. so i can go visit . but until then. i love the set up jpay has for staying in touch..God bless jpay and what they are doing for the inmates that are in the prison system.

  19. Judy Pearson

    December 31, 2014 - 11:48 am

    Hi Esthre Salinas, Just wanted to let you know that they do move inmates closer to there loved ones if they have the room at the facility.. Write lots of letters and phone calls make them tired of you, to your state, and to the facility of where he is. we did this and within 6 months he was moved very close where I could go see him weekly. Also got to do the all night visits which I understand they don’t have this in many states anymore which is to bad. Hope this is helpful. Judy

  20. Lisa Wagoner

    December 31, 2014 - 9:49 am

    My daughter has been incarcerated for almost two years she’s around six hours away from me. Being able to text her is the greatest thing ever. She’s not only my daughter she’s my best friend. I miss her dearly. I just wanted to say thank you for me and her being able to text back and forth. It helps a lot.

  21. Vonni

    December 25, 2014 - 10:44 pm

    I am 72 yrs old and my son is 43. He recently was transferred from jail to Prison. I haven’t seen him for 2 months and because of the Christmas Holidays it takes 38 days for my son to get a letter from me. He is 5 hours away so in order to see him I have to stay the night at a Hotel. I love my son so much. He is my only son and has two sisters older than him. We are all very close. I’m so worried about him. He can’t even call me as long as he is in reception. I feel like a cry baby so many of you haven’t seen you loved one for years and it’s only been 2 months for me but it seems like 2 yrs since I saw him. You all will be in my prayers.

  22. Esthre M. Salinas

    December 24, 2014 - 7:33 pm

    I understand what every one with a son or daughter in prison goes by. We are now older and it’s hard for us to drive all the way to San Antonio, because now I have to drive. Now I get nervous and paronoid with other cars while I am driving and five hours is alot of time on the road. I would like to know if my son can be moved closer to Brownsville, Texas so that we can visit him at least once a month. Yes, video visits would be nice but I’d rather see him and hug him and make sure he looks well at least once a month.

  23. Editor

    December 18, 2014 - 3:30 pm

    Hi Tammy,

    We would like to express our sincere condolences to you and your family on your loved one’s passing. Currently, video visits are not available for the state of North Carolina. Please be aware we are constantly working to bring our services to every state and facility. We will make sure to keep you posted on any updates for the state of North Carolina. Have a great day!

  24. Editor

    December 18, 2014 - 3:24 pm

    Hi Tonia,

    We’re sorry to hear your video visits have not been successful. Please be aware we are constantly working to develop and enhance our services for each state. To get more information on troubleshooting your video visit, please visit the following link http://www.jpay.com/jpayHelp/Default.htm. Have a great day!

  25. Editor

    December 18, 2014 - 2:05 pm

    Hi Vickey,

    Currently, video visits are not available for the state of Florida. Please be aware we are constantly working to bring our services to every state. Once the services are added at your loved one’s facility, you can video chat from any location. We will make sure to keep you posted on any updates for the state of Florida. Have a great day!

  26. Editor

    December 18, 2014 - 1:50 pm

    Hello Pat,

    Please contact our customer service at (800) 574-5729, and they will be able to help you

  27. Editor

    December 18, 2014 - 1:46 pm

    Hi Candy,

    Currently, video visits are not available at the Kershaw Correctional Facility in South Carolina. We are constantly working to bring our products and services to every state and facility. We will continue to keep you posted about any updates at your loved one’s facility. Have a great day!

  28. Editor

    December 17, 2014 - 4:19 pm

    Hi Jese,

    Please check out the following link http://www.jpay.com/PAvail.aspx to see if video visitation is available at your loved one’s facility. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Have a great day!

  29. Patricia Williams

    December 15, 2014 - 12:23 am

    I can relate and understand how all these people feel I was locked up 20 years ago and now my son is, I can’t visit him cause I’m on probation because I haven’t been able to pay off my restitution. It hurts so much because one jes my son and I love him we have always been very close. I would be able to understand if I was on probation for say felony crime but I’m not I strongly believe our children need to see us for support and to know we are here for them, sure letters and emails can do that but there is nothing like a face to face visit I am beside myself on this how can a parent not be aloud to see there child. I feel every situation should be looked at and consider letting a parent visit there child ,if there in my kind of perdicament, its so heart breaking knowing I won’t be able to see him. Thank you for listening.

  30. Brenda

    December 12, 2014 - 7:02 pm

    I haven’t seen my daughter for approximately 5 weeks, I would visit her 4 times a week in Harris county and that being said, I’ve met nice and informative people along the way. She took her journey last month to began her sentence. Like the gentleman stated in a earlier comment, Texas is always the last to receive anything. By her being my only child, it would b nice to have a video visitation, so I can c her face and hear her voice. It takes so long to even receive a letter from your love one, visits, not even a phone call to say hello I’m here r I just call to say I love mom. I also would b ecstatic if I could receive a reply from my emails that I sent her. She’s passing thru my understanding its only a intake facility. I pray that she’s close to home where I can visit , if she’s not, the Video Visitation will b really awesome for me

  31. Kimberly

    December 7, 2014 - 10:28 am

    It has been a very long time since I have seen my fiance face to face.I Miss how he would smile at me,I miss looking him into his eyes,if I cant touch him when I want at least the video visitation would comfort some of the pain of me not being able to see him!!

  32. Vickey Reith

    December 7, 2014 - 9:32 am

    How can I find out when Florida will have video visits and if they plan on this in the future . Which states already have this feature. Does both states have to have this in use before a loveone can have a video visit with someone. Thank you for your time.

  33. Amanda

    December 3, 2014 - 10:32 pm

    I am a military member who is stationed hundreds of miles away from where my brother is incarcerated. I am unable to just pick up and take leave to come home to visit. I have to coordinate with my command and coordinate with the prison to get a time to visit with my brother. We have been so close our entire lives and he has always been the big brother that has been a huge part of my life. It is hard enough being in the military away from my family all the time and being able to pick up the phone and call anytime I wanted was so nice, but now I don’t have that luxury. I can’t just pick up the phone and call my big brother, I have to write a letter and wait a week to hear back from him. It would be so wonderful if I was able to just go to my computer and sign in and start a visitation with him so I could see him and hear his voice and just feel like for the first time in a long time that he was here with me and that I was there with him. I can’t wait to be able to use video chat to visit with him. Thanks to jpay for making this possible. I have a feeling that it is going to help our relationship tremendously and that we will soon be as close as we were before all of this happened.

  34. jese2222

    November 30, 2014 - 1:16 pm

    Hi,How do we find out if a certian facility accepts Video visitation, w/o having to call them bcuz this facilty is absolutley No HELP WHEN YOU CALL. Please help me find out how. I haven’t seen my son in yrs and he is in a different state. I’m not sure how much longer I can hold on w/o seeing my son. He is the part of me that is still living in my soul and it’s not holding on so good. Life is cruel and so are some ppl who don’t understand. But I also know that there are ppl who do. Pls hep me continue to hold on. The pain is nothing I have ever known of. TNX, Jese

  35. Sherri Holt

    November 27, 2014 - 4:13 pm

    I would love a video visitation. I haven’t seen my youngest son for over a month now….he’s been incarcerated in county jail for 2+ years where I’ve been visiting religiously every week. He was transferred to DEC 1+ months ago and we just now got approved for visitation. I miss my son.

  36. Pam pounds

    November 24, 2014 - 3:56 am

    I would love to have my dad’s prison do video visits he’s been in there 26 years I was only 13 and now I’m 36. I saw him the first time 11 yrs after he went in with his 6 month old grandson it’s the only one of 16 that he’s ever met. I then saw him 11 yrs later and now it’s been 5yrs and I had a stroke 2yrs ago that has left me partially paralyzed on my left side and wheelchair bound so it makes it difficult for us to travel the distance and money is scares. He calls every Sunday but I NEED to see his face, to see that he’s ok especially since he’s been Really sick and has had a lot of heart problems lately with an incident that almost killed him. So please bring this to Colorado I would pay whatever price just for even 5min. These stories are Sooo touching I pray for all the families with loved ones that are away that this dream comes true for all of you. I wish it would have been available when my grandparents were alive because my dad didn’t get to say goodbye to either of them and I know it haunts him daily. So let’s get this going and let’s get families reconnected in a way that maybe the only means possible.

    God Bless All you families who are going through this journey that we all have been joined together by. For this is NOT just a prisoner sentence yet a family sentence. So thank you for sharing your stories with me.

  37. dende

    November 21, 2014 - 3:56 am

    Wow nice

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