Quantcast

Calhoun County jail adds videoconference for lawyers and inmates - abc27 WHTM

Calhoun County jail adding Internet videoconferencing for lawyers and inmates

Posted: Updated:
ANNISTON, Ala. -

The Calhoun County Sheriff's Office lets inmates talk with their loved ones using Internet webcams in visitation rooms.

Those inmates will soon be able to use the same technology to discuss their cases with lawyers.

"To allow inmates to visit via the Internet with their families, that's a convenience for their families," Sheriff Larry Amerson said.

"They don't have to drive here.  A lot of people live far away or they may be invalids, or may have small children they don't want to bring to that environment."

There are 10 booths for visitors to talk to inmates.  Four have traditional glass windows with telephones, while six have small cameras and video screens.

"We've been doing that for some time.  It's proved successful," Amerson said.

The sheriff said the next logical step is to extend that access to attorneys, who currently have access to three rooms at the Calhoun County jail where they can meet with their clients.

The president of the Calhoun-Cleburne Bar Association, David Alexander, said there are sometimes problems visiting inmates due to timing issues.

"There's a small amount of time to visit the inmates," Alexander said.

"Before feeding, after feeding.  Anytime there's a security issue, if they're on lockdown, we can't get in, and a lot of judges want to know why we've not met with our clients, so we're looking forward to getting online."

The video conference technology is provided by Telmate, which specializes in video visitation at jails.  Sheriff Amerson demonstrated the system to members of the bar association Thursday.

Corrections officer Judson Blewster sat in front of the wall-mounted Telmate system in a visitation room at the jail.  The attorneys and the sheriff were at the courthouse.  They used a laptop signed into Telmate's website and talked to Blewster through the videochat.

"All of the attorneys that I've spoken to are really excited this is happening," attorney Jennifer Argo said.  "I think it's going to save everyone a lot of time and the state some money."

Argo said she will have more convenient access to clients when she can schedule an appointment and then open her laptop at her office.

The sheriff said attorneys should be able to use iPads or smartphones by the end of the year.  That is a big change to the traditional trip to the jail.

"Even attorneys who are officers of the court (prosecutors), if they come to our physical facility, they have to checked, they have to be logged in," Amerson said.

"We have to get them a visitation room.  We have to go get the inmate and move them there, the visit happens, we have to put the inmate back, we have to search the inmate, we have to make sure that nothing came in or went out that was inappropriate."

That requires staff for inspection, but an inmate going to a video visitation room does not need to be searched since there is no physical interaction with the attorney.

The teleconferencing also means there does not need to be a guard to monitor the safety of the attorney.  Guards currently watch attorney-client meetings through a video camera in the room, although those meetings are not recorded and there is no audio to protect attorney-client privilege.

Bar association president Alexander said there are times when lawyers represent inmates who have issues with anger or instability, and this can make the attorneys feel safer.

"We're looking forward to being able to get online.  We can schedule it beforehand meet with our inmates, safer environments, safer for us, safer for the deputies there that bring the inmates to us.  So we're looking forward to this advanced technology here in Calhoun County," Alexander said.

There are some other jails that have video visitation, including Cullman and Etowah County, but Sheriff Amerson said Calhoun County is leading the pack on the Internet side.  Alexander said other counties will likely look to Calhoun as a test run, which expects to be a success.

Online visits for friends and family cost $12.50 for 20 minutes, to help cover the cost of the equipment.  Attorneys will receive two free visits with a client every week.  They can purchase more time if wanted, and in-person visits are free.

  • Central Alabama NewsMore>>

  • John Carroll to head Ethics Commission

    John Carroll to head Ethics Commission

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 8:57 PM EDT2014-09-03 00:57:28 GMT
    Former Cumberland Law School Dean John Carroll will serve as acting director of the State Ethics Commission beginning Oct. 1.Ethics Commission Chairman Ed Crowell announced Tuesday that Carroll will fill in when Director Jim Sumer retires Oct. 1 after being the commission's top staff member for 17 years. Crowell says Carroll will not be a candidate for the permanent position. The commission is accepting applications for the permanent position.Carroll spent 13 years as dean of the Cumberland L...More >>
    Former Cumberland Law School Dean John Carroll will serve as acting director of the State Ethics Commission beginning Oct. 1.Ethics Commission Chairman Ed Crowell announced Tuesday that Carroll will fill in when Director Jim Sumer retires Oct. 1 after being the commission's top staff member for 17 years. Crowell says Carroll will not be a candidate for the permanent position. The commission is accepting applications for the permanent position.Carroll spent 13 years as dean of the Cumberland L...More >>
  • Poll shows most U.S. parents happy with schools

    Poll shows most U.S. parents happy with schools

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 5:18 PM EDT2014-09-02 21:18:23 GMT
    A new survey indicates that a majority of parents in the United States with children in public school systems would rate the quality of their children's schools as above average. Among those polled, 66 percent of parents would rate the quality of their child's school as above average or excellent. However, looking deeper in the demographics shows that minority parents are more likely to believe their children's school is average or worse.The study was released by Vox Populi Polling.More >>
    A new survey indicates that a majority of parents in the United States with children in public school systems would rate the quality of their children's schools as above average. Among those polled, 66 percent of parents would rate the quality of their child's school as above average or excellent. However, looking deeper in the demographics shows that minority parents are more likely to believe their children's school is average or worse.The study was released by Vox Populi Polling.
    More >>
  • Video appears to show beheading of US journalist Steven Sotloff by ISIS

    Video appears to show beheading of US journalist Steven Sotloff by ISIS

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-09-02 21:15:56 GMT
    An Internet video purports to show the beheading of U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff by the Islamic State group.More >>
    An Internet video purports to show the beheading of U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff by the Islamic State group.
    More >>
  • Anniston - Gadsden Area NewsMore>>

  • Deputies in Etowah County arrest three women for chemical endangerment

    Deputies in Etowah County arrest three women for chemical endangerment

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 7:47 PM EDT2014-09-02 23:47:56 GMT
    The Etowah County sheriff's office arrested three women for chemical endangerment of a child. Investigators charged 28-year-old Ashton Lauren Wood, 25-year-old Jessica Amber Abner and 24-year-old Keeley Elizabeth McCain. Sheriff's Office Deputy Jeremy Lasseter say Wood and her baby both tested positive for amphetamines following the baby's birth. Her bond is set at $10,000. Wood will be supervised by Community corrections and must comply with DHR requirements. She will not be allowed to make ...More >>
    The Etowah County sheriff's office arrested three women for chemical endangerment of a child. Investigators charged 28-year-old Ashton Lauren Wood, 25-year-old Jessica Amber Abner and 24-year-old Keeley Elizabeth McCain. Sheriff's Office Deputy Jeremy Lasseter say Wood and her baby both tested positive for amphetamines following the baby's birth. Her bond is set at $10,000. Wood will be supervised by Community corrections and must comply with DHR requirements. She will not be allowed to make ...More >>
  • Clean out your cabinets for Drug Take-Back Day

    Clean out your cabinets for Drug Take-Back Day

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 1:38 PM EDT2014-09-02 17:38:07 GMT
    Do you have a drawer or cabinet of medicines? Are any of them out of date? Now is the time to check because you can safely dispose of the medications at the Etowah County Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. It is part of a nationwide effort. The event will be Saturday, September 27. A take-back station will be set up at the East Gadsden Walmart from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.A law enforcement officer will remain with the drug disposal box at all times, and the drugs that are turned in will be tr...More >>
    Do you have a drawer or cabinet of medicines? Are any of them out of date? Now is the time to check because you can safely dispose of the medications at the Etowah County Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. It is part of a nationwide effort. The event will be Saturday, September 27. A take-back station will be set up at the East Gadsden Walmart from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.A law enforcement officer will remain with the drug disposal box at all times, and the drugs that are turned in will be tr...More >>
  • Arrest made in large level extortion scheme

    Arrest made in large level extortion scheme

    Friday, August 29 2014 12:45 PM EDT2014-08-29 16:45:16 GMT
    "Everett Leon Stout, 72 and Miriam Clair Schultz, 67 are charged with 14 counts of extortion.More >>
    "Everett Leon Stout, 72 and Miriam Clair Schultz, 67 are charged with 14 counts of extortion.More >>
Most Popular
Stories
Videos
loading...
Powered by WorldNow