Midland County Turns to Video-Conferencing to Manage Arraignments

By Abby Reed
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - Midland County is moving arraignments out of their courtrooms and turning to video conferencing to manage those court appearances.

In the past, Jail Lt. Kenneth Johnson had jailers load inmates into a van and transport them to the courthouse for their arraignments.  Now, thanks to a new video conferencing gadget, he only has to load inmates onto an elevator, and take them to the second floor of the jail.

"It's so convenient, because we don't have to take the inmates out of their secured area, and transport them all the way over to the courthouse, it basically, makes it a lot better on the safety and security of the jail," Johnson said.

The video conferencing device, now allows inmates to appear before their judge in a matter of seconds.

"We no longer have to transport prisoners through any public area at all," County Judge Marvin Moore, said.

Moore is impressed with the new capabilities.  He says it makes it easy for everyone involved.

"I can turn that monitor on, and in less than 30 seconds be connected to those folks seated in that courtroom," Moore said.

The new technology also cuts down on manpower and time for both the jail and the courthouse.

"We will negate the necessity for transport officers, the folks it takes to take all those prisoners down to the transport vans. Then, the folks that have to pay attention to them when they get to the courthouse like the security personnel and the bailiffs," Moore said.

Freeing up that manpower, means freeing up taxpayer dollars, previously spent on that extra personnel.  Officials say now that inmates are kept within the walls of the detention center, jailers, court personnel and residents are safer.