Problems at the jail prevent family members from visiting loved ones

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - According to a Mid-South family, the visitation monitors at the 201 Poplar jail are not working and they have been forced to wait up to five hours to see their loved one.

Twice a week, without fail, 76-year-old Joe Thomas goes to the jail at 201 Poplar to visit with his son Terrence Thomas.

But recently, Thomas' visits with his son haven't happened thanks to technical failures.

"I don't know if it is a computer problem or what's the problem," Thomas said.

His son has been locked up for 11 months. He says visitation day has ended without them seeing each other.

"I told her go ahead and cancel it. I said I want to get out of here before it is dark, because it is dangerous," Thomas said.

Thomas and family friend Don Kinder say they have been forced to wait hours.

"If 30 people waiting for one monitor, sometimes its 4 or 5 hours," Kinder said.

It's because they say of the 60 visitation monitors less than five have been in working order this month.

"Last week there were four machines working, this week they had one," Kinder said.

A Shelby County Public Information Officer told us the visitation monitors are not the only way families can visit. He says the old fashioned visitation windows are still there, but the family we spoke with says that option has never been offered to them.

"Maybe having 10 machines would be great. But to have one is unacceptable," Kinder said.

This family says despite the monitor failure they will continue to show up with hopes the visitation system paid for with tax dollars will work.

"Many times this is the only visit the people have with the outside world," Kinder said.

We have been in communication with the PIO with Shelby County since yesterday. We have shared the dates and times that this family says they monitors were down.

We still have not received information on how many visitation monitors are currently working.

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