Officials: Video conferencing increases court effectiveness

Monday, December 20 2010

Officials in Paris, Tennessee, have found that their state-of-the-art video conferencing technology has resulted in a huge leap forward for the Henry County Sheriff's Department and the Henry County General Sessions Court, reports the Paris Post-Intelligencer.

The system saves time, manpower and transportation costs, as prisoners can be arraigned over a two-way video conference from a special room in the county jail. Before the county installed the system in 2008, officers had to make several trips to court every Tuesday and Thursday to arraign new prisoners, the news source writes.

But the technology has also been found to be beneficial for other court proceedings, according to the publication. The system allowed jurors to see an animated reproduction of a boating fatality in a recent trial, thanks to the 52-inch flat screen television mounted in the General Sessions courtroom. Video conferences can also be recorded, which is helpful because court sessions such as preliminary hearings are required by law to be recorded.

Most inmates can be arraigned through video conferencing. One exception is when domestic cases are involved. Those inmates are transported to the courthouse because of the extra paperwork involved and to ensure that they fully understand the laws concerning domestic assault victims.

Similar systems are being implemented across the country. For example, York, Kennebec and Aroostook counties in Maine use video conferencing and have found that their courtroom proceedings are safer, more efficient and less costly, reports Seacoast Online.