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!