Money to pay for digital court appearances will come from the Inmate Security Fund next year as opposed to the Information Technology Department, under a proposal discussed by officials last week.
The Inmate Security Fund gets its money from defendants paying an additional $2 in court costs when they are found guilty, said Sheriff’s Office Capt. David Boehm.
He explained that the county rents a fiber-optic cable that connects county courtrooms to the jail. This way defendants do not have to leave the jail to make court appearances since they can appear before the judge via a TV monitor.
This saves the county money in inmate transport costs, Boehm said. It also cuts down on security risks since the inmates do not have to be removed from the secure jail environment.
In the past, the county’s IT Department has paid for the cost of renting the fiber-optic cable that makes the electronic court appearances possible. But during a budget meeting between County Auditor Tammy Vemmer, county commissioners and sheriff’s office personnel it was determined that the Inmate Security Fund may be a better source of funding.
That way the cost of making the electronic court appearances possible is covered by the defendants themselves through their court costs.
The fiber-optic cable rental is not a huge expense, only coming to a little more than $3,000 a year.
But county commissioners and the county auditor are in the process of meeting with each department to comb through the details of next year’s budget, which takes effect Jan. 1.
The Inmate Security Fund may accumulate about $15,000 to $20,000 this year. The fund has been in place for two to three years, Boehm said.