Technology has been advancing in many different areas over the years, and with it has come a lot of change. Some of this new technology has required many different industries to adapt to some of these technological changes as well. Also, some of this newer technology has had a huge impact on the criminal justice system. For example, videoconferencing is now being used in many different areas within the court system. When video conferencing is used, some of the participants including the judge are in a courtroom, and some others whether it is a defendant, or a witness are at remote locations outside of the courtroom (Johnson & Wiggins 2006). These participants in each location can see the other participants on a television or computer monitor and hear what is being said through high-speed lines (Johnson & Wiggins 2006).
Personally, I see videoconferencing as being very beneficial to the courts, and overall, to the criminal justice system as well. There are many reasons why I feel this way, and a lot of it comes from my own personal experiences with video conferencing technology. Being in the Bail bond business I have a lot of interaction with the court system. For example, in many jurisdictions that I do business a lot of the judges who set bonds on defendants use video conferencing during their bond hearing. A bond hearing Is not intended to presume innocence or guilt. It is a hearing to determine a bond amount for the accused. With that said by having the initial bond hearing done by videoconferencing it saves the courts both time, and money. Before there was video conferencing the defendant would be sitting in the county jail awaiting their bond hearing, and government authorities would have to transport them to the courthouse (Johnson & Wiggins 2006). This costs the court system more money because someone must pay for the extra security that is involved with the process. This process of transporting the defendants also takes a lot more time than video conferencing does. Also, if the courthouse is a long distance away from the jail it may allow the hearing to occur sooner than without video conferencing (Johnson & Wiggins 2006).
Another benefit that I have recently experienced with video conferencing relates to COVID-19. Before the pandemic if I had an off-bond hearing, my attorney, and I would have to go in person to the courthouse to speak to the judge about my case. An off bond is a term used in my industry which means that I have taken the defendant that I posted bond on back into custody. During the hearing through my attorney, I would explain to the judge why I took the defendant back to jail. Also, during this type of hearing the jailer would transport the defendant to the courthouse. Now due to COVID-19 they have only been allowing these off-bond hearings to be done via video conferencing. I had an off bond hearing a couple of months ago through video conferencing. I was at home on using my computer webcam, and my attorney was on his webcam as well. Lastly, the defendant was on video camera at the county jail, and the judge was on video at the courthouse. We could all see and hear one another through our monitors and speakers. This kept everyone socially distanced, and it was an awesome experience! It was great for me because I did not have to take time out of my day to drive down to the courthouse. I also have heard that going forward that this might be how off bond hearings are now going to be done. For proceedings that traditionally have been considered routine, video conferencing can provide most if not all the hallmarks of in court proceedings while saving time and money for those involved (Johnson & Wiggins 2006).
Johnson, M., Wiggins, E., (2006). “Videoconferencing in Criminal Proceedings: Legal and Empirical issues and Directions for Research.” Law & Policy, Vol. 28, No. 2.