A new video arraignment system will allow Bartholomew County to hold routine court appearances remotely starting early next year, rather than requiring deputies to shuttle inmates between the jail and courthouse.
Bartholomew County Commissioners unanimously approved spending up to $55,000 from the county telecommunications fund at their meeting Monday.
As far back as 2005, an Indiana Department of Correction inspection report recommended the county adopt a video arraignment system. But in June, when the commissioners sought bids for the project, they were taken aback by the costs, which ran between $100,000 and $160,000. The commissioners expected bids of no more than $90,000.
Rather than go with an outside company, the commissioners asked the county’s Information Technology Department to put the project together. Jim Hartsook, the county IT director, said that all the necessary gear was on hand, and a room at the jail for the video proceedings was finished last week. Secure enclosures are being constructed to protect the video equipment, and the system should be operational early next year, he said.
Commissioner Carl Lienhoop said it will be easier for jail staff to move prisoners to a room within the jail and to conduct court hearings via video.
“It has got to save some time, and it has got to be safer,” Lienhoop said.
Commissioners President Larry Kleinhenz expected the cost would be quickly recouped, as the county will save staff time and transportation costs.
“It will pay back quickly if we use it,” Kleinhenz said. “That is the trick. We have got to get the judges to use it, and they have expressed their willingness to do so.”
The telecommunications fund will have about $600,000 left in it after the project is complete, according to the county auditor’s office. The money from the fund is collected from cable television bills.
In other business, the County Commissioners:
Approved reimbursable utility expenses for the County Road 600N project of $457,667. County Engineer Danny Hollander said if a county road project requires moving utilities that are not in the county right of way, the county must pay to move the utilities and then will be reimbursed for 80 percent of the cost by the state. The payment included $270,000 to move Eastern Bartholomew Water Corp. lines and $187,667 for Vectren Corp. lines.
Approved $54,373 in spending for various computer system projects including an anti-virus upgrade for all county computers and the annual maintenance contract for the county clerk and courts system.
Increased the speed limit on County Road 100W between roads 450S and 625S. Hollander said the section of road was incorrectly rated as an urban road in 1996 with a speed limit of 30 mph. Because the entrances to the road are frequently more than 200 feet apart, the speed limit should be set at 45 mph, Hollander said.