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After Friday, the Lexington County jail will no longer allow face-to-face visits for inmates.

Jail officials are shifting to video calls that they say will increase visitation.

"We used to have lines going out the door," Maj. Kevin Jones said.

During designated visiting hours, Lexington deputies had a rough time allowing up to 704 inmates visit with their loved ones.

"What we wanted to do was kind of gradually phase the old system out and the numbers have increased tremendously," Jones said.

Seeing one another behind the glass is becoming a thing of the past; now, it will be behind a lens.

"It's going to expand the number of hours that an inmate can interact with a family member or a loved one," Jones said. "Instead of having to travel all the way to South Carolina to have a person-to-person visit they can visit from their home."

Jones cites time, space and personnel as the main reasons for strictly using video calls. The department reports in just 7 months, inmates have participated in over 13,000 calls. About 15,000 were made last year.

But a former Lexington County inmate says this isn't a good sign.

"It's a situation where you still got a separation," Phillip Swinton said.

Swinton spent almost 8 years behind bars, and says discontinuing in-person visits will weigh heavy on inmates.

"You're taking so much away, I might be a little impartial because I've been incarcerated, but it's like you're punishing me again," Swinton said.

To learn more about Lexington County's video calls, you can go to their website at www.lex-co.com/sheriff

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