self-funded and self-administered. Te AACRMF is not insur- ance but rather a fund through which counties acting coopera- tively through their association can: Manage their risk through good loss control practices and obtain the protection needed without paying for protection actually not needed. Te AAC is constantly looking for ways to limit the coun-


ties’ liability and save them money. An issue the AACRMF has recently addressed is the inefficiency involved in transport- ing prisoners from the county jail to prisons and courtrooms. Tere is no need for a sheriff’s deputy to, for example, drive four hours across the state so an inmate can spend 15 minutes in a courtroom for arraignment. Likewise, there is no need for the Arkansas Department of Corrections (ADC) or the Arkansas Department of Community Corrections (ADCC) to prepare an inmate for transport. Te liability for counties and the state increases every time an inmate is transferred out of a prison to a courtroom — and public safety decreases. Some counties have a video arraignment system that con- nects the jail and the courtroom. Te AACRMF, in partner- ship with Keystone Solutions, built upon this concept and de- veloped an encrypted Video Arraignment Bridge (VAB) that now connects the jail, the courtroom and state correctional facilities. Te Arraignment Bridge is one of the most secure networks on the market. Our high-tech jail phone is the cornerstone for the pilot

program. Te jail phone enclosure is an 18-by-18-by-8 van- dal-proof enclosure equipped with a 15-inch color screen that is shatterproof. A small computer located inside the enclosure powers the phone, which can be either wall mounted or attached to a cart for mobility. Data and power sources are enclosed in con- duit to prevent tampering. Finally, a high-reso- lution camera protected by Plexiglass prevents unauthorized entry to the enclosure. AAC and the ADC identified seven prisons

where jail phones have been installed at no cost to the state. Four counties — Baxter, Cross, Jackson and Sebastian — are participating in the pilot program. We have equipped each of these counties with one jail phone each, as well as video phones for the judges and at- torneys in the courtroom. ADCC also is par- ticipating in the pilot, using the video phones for parole hearings. Te program is receiving rave reviews from

all parties, and we already have several requests for expansion. Baxter County Sheriff John

22 he Association of Arkansas

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AAC tests video phones in 4 counties Governmental Affairs

Counties (AAC)

developed the AAC Risk Management Fund (AACRMF) in 1986. Fifty-one counties currently participate in the program, which is completely

Montgomery said, “Te use of the video phones is proving to be not only a time and money saving use of technology, [but] it also is provid- ing greater safety to our officers and courtroom personnel. Reducing cost and reducing liabilities to the coun- ties — it’s a win-win for everyone.” Attorney Randall Rudisill with the public defender’s office in Jackson County also praises the technology. “With the completion of our new jail here in Jackson County, the VAB has allowed me to eliminate an approximately 15-mile round trip for each jail visit. I simply utilize my video phone from the comfort of my office,” he said. “Tis allows me to spend more time dealing with case files and less time traveling to and from jail and waiting on jailers to secure inmates for visitation. Simply, the VAB allows me to perform my duties much more efficiently. Tis efficiency allows me to make contact with clients more frequently.” Amy Fecher, Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s chief transformation

Josh Curtis

Governmental Affairs Director

officer, said, “One of the main goals of the Office of Trans- formation is to find ways through technology to simplify state processes and save money. Te Video Arraignment Bridge seems to be accomplishing this in the … pilot program, and I applaud the AACRMF for trying new innovative approaches.” Te AACRMF looks forward to expanding this program to all member counties across the state. We are in the process of developing ways to roll out a strategic plan for statewide implementation. Stay tuned for further details.

Above: Jackson County Sheriff David Lucas speaks to an inmate via video phone, which is installed on the desk in his office. Jackson County is one of four counties to participate in the AACRMF Arraignment Bridge pilot program.


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