A simple technology just saved $5,000 in taxpayer funds and could actually save corrections officer lives

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Thursday, June 6, 2019
News 12 at 6 O’Clock/NBC at 7

2 West Virginia Magistrates have been indicted on several charges including wire fraud.

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- The state is cutting down on transporting prisoners from prison to court. There have been problems with this in the past.

Most notably, an incident occurred almost two years ago in Putnam County when two inmates escaped from a prison transport bus and killed two corrections officers.

Ricky Dubose and Donnie Rowe were on the run for two days until they were caught in Tennessee.

Late last fall, Richmond County Superior Court Judge Wade Padgett requested change.

“We were having to issue an order to have an inmate transported from the Department of Corrections back to Richmond County to take care of a pending charge just to get something as simple as announcement like ready, not ready, want to have a hearing, don't have a hearing,” Padgett said.

Padgett partnered with the state Department of Corrections and came up with the idea of video conferencing from state prisons.

“We could do some of the preliminary things or some of the post-trial appeal related things by video,” Padgett said.

One of the big reasons they wanted the conferencing is for the safety of prison guards like Dubose and Rowe.

“Unfortunately what really brought this whole program in sharp focus was a tragedy that occurred involving two Department of Corrections employees,” Padgett said.

From December to March, Augusta tested out the idea with cameras in two prisons and one in Superior Court.

They held 35 hearings, saving time, 9,600 miles in transports, around $5,000 in taxpayer dollars, and possibly the lives of guards.

“We can do arraignments in minutes that normally take buses and weeks of transport and court orders and planning we literally can do in minutes,” Padgett said.

As of June 1, all 32 state prisons in Georgia have the video conferencing system. Now all circuits have the option to hold hearings using it. They just have to purchase one for their circuit.

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