An alternative to bleak jail visits: The video chat

Visiting an inmate at New York City's Riker's Island jail means a long bus ride, intense security screening and hours waiting in a joyless visitor center.

Now, city officials hope to give some prisoners' families a chance to shortcut that process by expanding a program that allows people to chat with inmates via video hookup at libraries.

The Brooklyn Public Library started hosting video visitations in 2014 at one of its branches as part of a program to get inmates to read to their children

By next month, the service will be expanded to 22 libraries across the city.

There's no way the small-scale video program could replace physical visits.

Rikers gets 1,500 visitors daily.

But they could be an alternative for people reluctant to go, like people with children.