Video conferencing saves sheriff's office thousands

Monday, November 22 2010

The Sheriff's Department in Lincoln County, Wisconsin, is saving thousands of dollars thanks to the installation of a video conferencing system, reports WSAW-TV.

The technology is used for hearings, linking courtrooms in the city of Merrill to inmates located at jails in Lincoln County or in others around the area.

It costs the county more than $80,000 to install the technology, but Chief Deputy Nathan Walrath says that in the long run, the money saved will recover those costs. He estimates that with each hearing that takes place via video conferencing, the department saves over $1,000 because it eliminates vehicle costs and officer wages, typically at overtime rates, to transport a prisoner.

The video conferencing system was used four times for out-of-county appearances in the first three months.

"It's very rare that we aren't running prisoners somewhere," Sheriff Jeff Jeager told Merrill Foto News. "There is a significant cost to transporting inmates."

For most intake appearances, video conferencing is ideal. The technology can also be used for other court appearances if the inmate, the attorneys and the judge agree to it. The defendant still has the right to an in-person appearance if they choose, according to Foto News.