Video conference court hearings for inmates at Cook County Jail?

November 22, 2010

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Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said he wants to stop transporting inmates from the Cook County Jail to their hearings in suburban court rooms. Instead, he said they can attend through video conferencing which could save the county a lot of money. 

Dart spent five years as an assistant state's attorney, and during that time he learned that many of the court hearings are pretty insignificant. "The defendant comes out of the back room, stands in front of the judge, does not utter a syllable. His attorney hands the prosecutor a document. The state's attorney hands the defense attorney a document, and the individual goes back to the lock up and off they go. And that's 80 percent of the cases, and that's just a monumental waste, there is no point of conflict, no issues being discussed, nothing," said Dart.

Dart said he's been pushing video conferenced status hearings as a way to save money for the last couple years, but the idea has some added weight now because last week the incoming county board president Toni Preckwinkle told each elected county official that they're going to have to cut their budgets by 21%.