How Paulding County, GA’s detention facilities streamlined remote court proceedings
About Paulding County Sheriff's Office
The Paulding County Sheriff's Office is a branch of the local government services in Paulding County, Georgia, located just a few miles west of Atlanta in Dallas, Georgia.
- The need for more efficiency in court hearings and proceedings.
- The need for a streamlined workflow for detention center staff and judges.
- The need to boost facility security and safety.
- Pexip Infinity self-hosted video conferencing platform, which was integrated with the solution provided by Pexip partner AVI-SPL.
- A more streamlined and organized process that saves the staff time and eliminates the need for transferring inmates between facilities.
- Increased safety during the COVID-19 pandemic and improved security at the facility.
- A scalable solution that opens up many possibilities for remote interactions between inmates and judges, along with other support services.
When Paulding County started building a new detention facility in 2016, its leaders saw an opportunity to be forward-thinking and pave the way for other state municipalities. The goal was to improve the quality of the services available to the county's inmate population while increasing safety and improving efficiency.
In Paulding, as with many other county jail systems throughout the United States, "pods," which are enclosed living areas for different groups of inmates, are critical features of the facility. The Paulding County detention facility has 12 pods, each including cells and a central area for congregating.
The Sheriff's Office had an idea to utilize the pods for remote interactions, such as court hearings and visits from religious advisors. "I wanted the court and other outside services to be able to come into those pods," says Colonel Chad Hunton, Chief Deputy at the Paulding County Sheriff's Office.
Hunton soon realized that Paulding would be a pioneer in this respect, as none of the other state facilities he spoke with had taken this bold approach to their operations. AVI-SPL, Paulding County's chosen provider of digital enablement solutions, then needed to find the right partners to understand the vision and bring it to life.
Understanding Paulding County’s need for more efficiency, AVI-SPL’s designers knew they would need to find a simple and flexible system to meet these needs today and in the future. In developing the solution, AVI-SPL worked with Hunton and his law enforcement team, as well as the county’s IT and the clerk’s offices. As the chosen video conferencing platform, Pexip became crucial in providing the foundation for these new remote proceedings.
The team addressed the design of the video equipment and created a streamlined, integrated workflow for Paulding County staff. “Our goal was to simplify what they’re doing today and integrate that into the new system,” says AVI-SPL Services Account Manager Sterling Enfield.
Pexip was chosen as the video conferencing provider for several reasons: It has multiple deployment options and is a flexible, scalable solution that adapts to the customer’s changing needs. Paulding County deployed Pexip on-premise to maintain the data control and security it needed. “Pexip was the only solutions provider that could do that,” says Enfield.
"The system helped us out a lot. With our protocols in place and this system, we've had no COVID-19 outbreaks in our detention facility."
The team equipped multiple spaces with video conferencing, including the magistrate courtroom, visitors center, medical services, bookings, and multipurpose rooms in the 12 pods. As a result, the facility has improved security and streamlined staffing needs by bringing court services directly to the inmates through video conferencing.
Using this solution, detainees scheduled to appear before a judge can connect easily to the system used by the magistrate court. Judges and others in the courtroom can see the video of each inmate on a large pull-down screen or the laptop at the judge's bench.
The system and training materials for new users are designed to make the system easily accessible to a broad spectrum of users and from various devices. The solution has also helped Paulding County improve security by reducing its need to transfer detainees from the detention facility to court for their bond hearings, arraignments, and other types of proceedings.
"The staff realizes how much time it's saving them," says Hunton. An even more significant benefit may be that the remote meetings have helped protect the health and safety of inmates, judges, and others throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Down the road, Paulding is looking to add a virtual visitor center that allows a pastor, rabbi, or priest to deliver religious services or enables other providers to offer educational, addiction, and rehabilitation services.
"We're just getting started," says Enfield. "There's so much more we could do to scale this system."