Knox County judge testing video arraignment system

5:29 PM, Apr 24, 2013   |    comments
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Saving money and time -- two reasons why Knox County Criminal Court Judge Steven Sword said he is testing a new video teleconferencing system for a suspect's arraignments.

"(Normally it) takes all of about five minutes. It's really just to tell them what they're charged with," Judge Sword said Wednesday.

In the past, he said it could take weeks just to get the initial hearing with the courts if a suspect is being held in a jail across the state. The closest DOC penitentiary to Knoxville is about an hour away in Wartburg, Morgan County.

"What we would have to do is figure out where they were going to be housed by the Department of Corrections, and then figure out how to request their presence here," the judge added.

Last week, the court started a new video arraignment system, costing about $10,000 in equipment, wiring, and technology upgrades. According to the DOC, it is the third county to use this kind of communication between inmates with judges and lawyers.




"We will bring the defendant out of his cell, take him to a secure video room in the penitentiary," the judge said.

So far, he said it has been showing benefits.



"The time that it saves is one thing. But on top of that, if you're not transporting prisoners across the state, think about all the gas money that you're saving," Judge Sword added. "This is going to save, at a minimum, tens of thousands of dollars."

Besides the courts and the taxpayers that could see the benefits, the judge said it helps speed cases.

"If you're the victim of a crime, you want to hear your case as soon as possible," he said.


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