Video Court Appearances/Video Arraignment
The CCNO will assist in enhancing the safety of courtroom personnel, the general public and CCNO Transportation Officers while decreasing the cost of transportation as well as the potential for escape by establishing a video conferencing link between the CCNO and the respective courtrooms for the purpose of conducting selected court appearances for offenders housed at CCNO.
All video court proceedings will be conducted in a manner that protects the due process rights of all defendants by providing a clear, accurate visual and audio representation of all parties involved in such proceeding. This service is in the process of being phased in to the 20 courts that CCNO serves.
As the offender population continues to grow, so do the problems associated with having to transport offenders to the 20 courts that send offenders to CCNO. The transportation of offenders requires time, demands the safety of the public, security of the offender population, and rising concern of transportation costs.
In October 2002, CCNO joined forces with RTEC Communications and Data Eclipse to develop a video arraignment system to address these concerns. Since the City of Bryan was working on a fiber optic system, the logical start was to also include the Williams County Common Pleas Court and Bryan Municipal Court. The system began utilization in March 2003.
Under the new video arraignment system, the offender may appear before a judge for arraignment without ever leaving CCNO. This helps reduce the need for transportation to the appropriate court, the offenders are kept secure at CCNO reducing the possibility of escape and reducing the need for court security, while the safety of the court personnel and general public is not jeopardized. Costs to purchase the necessary video equipment totaled $141,339. This would allow installation of video equipment in all five-county common pleas courts and the City of Toledo municipal courts. The initial start up cost of the video arraignment system was $141,339.
As those involved get used to the new technology of video conferencing for arraignment, there will be more and more uses for the resource. In addition to court arraignments, it has already been used for attorney-client conferences and by probation officers for pre-sentence investigations prior to court sentencing. Other future uses include videoconference meetings, long-distance training, inmate visiting and telemedicine. In some limited areas, health officials at one site may consult with their colleagues at another site and an offender may be screened or receive follow up recommendations without having to make a trip to a nearby medical center or hospital.
In 2000, the Supreme Court of Ohio reported that 82 common pleas and municipal courts were using video arraignment systems. The technology, which is used for a variety of courtroom procedures, has proven to be a valuable tool to help conserve law enforcement, court and corrections systems resources.