VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – Visitation has been restored at the Virginia Beach Correctional Center.

Officials with the Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office announced Tuesday the new inmate visitation system went live in the morning. This comes after the video visitation system went down in late March.

“I understand that three months is a long time to go without seeing your loved ones and I appreciate everyone’s patience as we’ve worked to restore visitation here at the Virginia Beach Correctional Center,” said Sheriff Ken Stolle said in a statement.

The jail houses nearly 1,400 inmates and officials say it’s one of the biggest facilities in the state.

Officials said inmates were allowed one free five-minute phone call during the outage.

Inmates are allowed one 25-minute visit per week, according to the sheriff’s office. The visits are free and have to be scheduled 24 hours ahead of time.

Deputy Chief of Operations Victoria Thomson said it’s important to have visitation.

“We’re tasked with supervising people who are incarcerated. We’re not tasked with punishing, anything like that. We’re tasked with supervising and we’d rather them be more happy and have as much contact with friends and family as possible,” she said.

Thomson said that the way to schedule still remains the same but videos will start exactly at the appointment time and end once the 25 minutes are up.

The sheriff’s office is also working to get online visitation, where loved ones can talk to inmates over the internet.

Inmates will use tablets provided by the system’s installers, GTL.

“The inmate will be able to do it from their cell block. There will be docking stations for the tablets where they can dock the tablets. They can visit from home. They don’t have to drive all the way here. They don’t have to find a sitter for the kids,”  Thomson said.

The sheriff’s office ended face-to-face visits in 2005 when it initially launched a video visitation system. Officials said they have been looking to replace that system since 2013 and City Council approved funding for $500,000 last summer.

The contract was signed with GTL in May and installation began in June.

To schedule an appointment, you can visit or call 757-385-4493.