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Video conferencing means fewer jail trips, less burnout

June 6, 2013 | Telepresence Options

jail video conference

Story and Images by Denise A. Raymo / Press Republican

MALONE -- Franklin County uses video conferencing instead of transporting some inmates to court appearances.

The system, says Public Defender Thomas Soucia, helps him stay in better touch with his incarcerated clients, eliminates time-consuming treks to the County Jail for brief conversations, and it is expected to reduce employee burnout.

Sheriff Kevin Mulverhill says it saves his department in manpower costs and wear and tear on patrol vehicles, and it increases security because inmates' interaction with the public is more limited.

The Sheriff's Department, which began using video conferencing earlier this year, made more than 1,400 trips totaling 60,000 miles to court, medical, dental and mental-health appointments in 2012.

Fewer trips save money, Mulverhill said.

The Conflict Defender's Office also employs video conferencing, and the Probation Department and likely the Department of Social Services will be added to the service soon.

The sheriff said many Family Court cases, such as child-support issues, might also be handled via video eventually.

County Data Processing Director Rob Green said the telecommunications system for the service costs the county about $100 more a month.

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