The Sheriff's Office electronic law library has proven to be an efficient and often used resource for Polk County inmates with requests and questions about the law. The electronic law library - which is available to all inmates being held in Polk County Sheriff's Office facilities - researched and completed 7,809 legal requests for inmates during the year 2000.
The electronic law library opened in 1998 and features a computer system with the capability of accessing a variety of legal resources. A law library clerk is available to research inmates' legal requests. The electronic system replaced two traditional book law libraries when it opened in March of 1998. The electronic system is not only more efficient, but provides a more secure means for inmates to access legal resources. The old system required that inmates be moved from their secure dorm to the book library, where a Corrections Officer was needed to watch over the inmates during their hour-long visit. Security was an important issue in considering the move to an electronic law library.
The computerized system offers the same access to legal resources, but eliminates the need to move inmates from their cells. With the electronic system, an inmate submits a written request for legal research about a certain topic or question. The request is then researched by the law library clerk and returned to the inmate. The law library clerk collects and returns the requests on a daily basis, and makes the needed copies for the inmates. Common requests have been for motions, case law, sentence guidelines, statutes, charges and other general information.
The computer program provides a full range of legal materials and offers enhanced search capabilities. The search capabilities allow the clerk to retrieve legal information in an efficient manner, and reference case law and statutes as needed.
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