In 2010, Judicial Information Services (then called Judicial Information Systems) expanded a videoconferencing project with the Department of Corrections to include the State Police Forensic Lab and state mental health facilities. Through this project, prisoners and mental health patients can participate in court hearings without the risks and costs involved in transporting them to court. Michigan State Police technicians can also use videoconferencing to participate in arraignments, pretrial conferences, and other court hearings without the time and expense of travel.
Using grants from the State Police Office of Highway Safety and Judicial Technology Improvement Funds, Judicial Information Systems began the planning process for the implementation of videoconferencing in 17 pilot courts. These 17 courts are of varying jurisdiction and locations.
In 2011 the project placed video equipment in 35 courtrooms in 31 counties.
In 2012 the project started placing 3 video units in each county, one for each jurisdiction, circuit, probate and district. A total of 65 courtrooms were installed in 27 counties in 2012.
In 2013 the project goal was to have at least one circuit, probate and district courtroom in all 83 counties outfitted with video. That goal was met with the installation of 86 courtrooms in 2013.
In 2014 the project has deployed systems in an additional 148 courtrooms. In total, the project has placed high definition videoconferencing into every courtroom with an assigned judge in 77 counties and great strides are also being made in the remaining six counties!
MDOC transport budgets have been significantly reduced through the project. In 2009 MDOC spent approximately $6 million transporting prisoners to courts and used video for only 2 percent of the requested court proceedings. In the last 12 months of the project alone MDOC saved over $2 million in transport costs and averaged approximately 30 percent of the requested court proceedings being done via video. Payback has been real time with one year of MDOC transport savings being greater than video system expenditure budget. Local county savings are above and beyond the MDOC savings and are estimated to exceed $6 million. In addition to resource savings, significant public safety benefits have also been realized.
SCAO Video Project