Date: November 22, 2002 "For Immediate Release"
To: News Media
From: Sheriff Lawrence W. Crow, Jr.
Media Contact:

Michal Shanley, 863 534-6631 or 819-0397 pager

Video First Appearance Scheduled To Go On-Line Monday, November 25

Video first appearance for Polk County inmates is scheduled to go on-line Monday, Nov. 25, 2002. The newly-installed state-of-the-art closed circuit video system is a joint project of the Polk County Court System and the Polk County Sheriff's Office.

The media is invited to attend the first session of video first appearance hearings, which will be conducted at 1:15 p.m. in courtroom 8E with Judge Anne Kaylor.

Polk County Court Judge Anne Kaylor, who will preside over the initial session of video hearings, is excited about the prospect of finally getting to use the technology for this system, which has been in the planning stages for three years.

"Our judges are eager to begin holding hearings in this fashion," Kaylor said. "The savings to the taxpayers will be a direct result of this project, and the security it provides to court and Sheriff's personnel and the public is immeasurable. And, due process to the  inmates will not be compromised."

The closed circuit video system allows inmates to make their first appearance before Polk County judges without ever leaving the secured confines of the Polk County Sheriff's Office jail system.

The first phase of the project features the installation of a complex video and audio connection between Central County Jail (CCJ) in Bartow and the Polk County Courthouse.  The inmate at CCJ and the judge at the Courthouse will be able to clearly view and hear each other using state-of-the-art split screen monitors. A small "court room" has been set up at CCJ featuring the two-way monitor, appropriate seating, lighting and audio devices, and a separate soundproof room for private legal conferences. Additional phases will eventually include video connections to South County Jail in Frostproof and Sheriff's Office substations.

The advantages of video first appearance include: not having to transport an average of 450 inmates per week to the Polk County Courthouse, reduction in transports from the South County Jail, and reduction in the inmate population in court holding cells.  Other  advantages include saving an estimated $100,000 annually on costs related to transportation of inmates, such as gas and vehicle maintenance and other costs. Increased security is another important benefit of video first appearance. The number of possible security breaches by inmates while being transported will be reduced as the inmate will never leave the secured jail facility.

Distribution: Undersheriff, Division Commanders, Communications, News Media

A text only version of this release is also available.

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