A Texas County Court System Finds Many Uses for Video Conferencing
By Nina Parker
Transporting prisoners from their jail cell to a courtroom had been a high-risk, costly, and time-consuming ordeal for one Texas county court system. Each time a prisoner was transferred from one location to another for a hearing, the inmate went out in public in an unsecure area while being attended to by police officers, sometimes traveling as much as seven hours to meet with a judge in another county.
The county implemented a point-to-point video conferencing system to make this process more efficient. The system was used to conduct video arraignments, in which arrested parties go before a judge via video to be read their rights and to set a bond.
The county's video conferencing system immediately cut down on the time and expense associated with arraignments. Based on the success of the program, the county looked to expand its use of video into other areas.
The county selected industry expert IVCi to design and install a high-definition TANDBERG video conferencing solution that would allow multi-point calls. The system included multiple TANDBERG Edge 95 MXPs with PrecisionHD cameras with Natural Presenter Package, TANDBERG 1000 MXPs, a TANDBERG Border Controller, TANDBERG Codian MCU, TANDBERG Gatekeeper, and TANDBERG Management Suite.
The new video conferencing system allowed the county to replace processes that had previously taken time, money, and extensive resources to accomplish. Some of the ways video is now being used include:
Guilty pleas to a felony offense can be made from the court house directly to the jail. A judge hearing pleas over video can complete 10 to 35 pleas on any given day, while eliminating the need to transport the prisoners.
A judge needs to issue a warrant to see a state prisoner in his court room. Instead of transporting that prisoner to the judge's location, which can take several hours, the judge can use video to communicate with the inmate.
Interviews - In the trial of a person who has committed a felony, the District Attorney may want to give examples of previous deviant behavior. Video can be used to interview witnesses from other states, avoiding the expense of flying them in to testify in-person.
Expert testimony is often needed in cases that involve DNA and other physical evidence. These experts are often physicians who have complicated schedules, and testifying over video facilitates their testimony.
Children can testify via video from a remote location so they do not have to face the accused in person.
The county is pleased with the results of its system and is looking forward to the increased use of video in the future. "It costs $85 dollars a day for someone to be in county jail," said one Texas county judge. "I believe we should have a video conferencing system in every court house and attorney's office. If attorneys can visit with their client over video, they can get their client out of jail faster, due to the facilitated communication among all parties."
For additional information regarding IVCi's Telepresence, Video Conferencing and Audio Visual equipment and services call 1-800-224-7083, or click here to have an IVCi Representative contact you.
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For additional information regarding TANDBERG video conferencing solutions call 1-800-224-7083, or click here to have an IVCi Representative contact you.
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