CDCR Secretary Kathleen Allison, Wardens from prisons in Kern County, and local judicial leadership gathered in Delano recently to celebrate the successes of a video court initiative that saves taxpayers money and improves public safety.
Now in its fifth year, the video court program of Kern County Superior Court in Delano allows defendants who committed their crimes while incarcerated in CDCR prisons in Kern County to appear at certain court proceedings via videoconference. This innovative program has saved Californians millions of dollars, and has meant fewer transports and increased security for CDCR staff. Previously, staff transported defendants to Kern County for court appearances even if they had transferred since committing the offense.
The program was spearheaded by Judge David Wolf, who was presented with a plaque recognizing his leadership and forward thinking.
“It’s a team effort,” Wolf said. “I’ll accept it, but only on behalf of everybody.”
Kern County District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer and Assistant Public Defender Peter Kang attended the celebration, as well as leaders from each of the five prisons in Kern County.
“CDCR greatly values our Kern County partners, including Judge Wolf, as we are all part of a system that each day works for the people of California,” Allison said. “One of the things we greatly value is the ongoing efforts to increase efficiencies in court proceedings through the use of video conferencing for some court proceedings, which was launched well before the pandemic. In fact, thanks to the strong foundation Judge Wolf built, we were able to quickly and efficiently pivot to videoconferencing during the pandemic in accordance with public health guidelines, protecting not only staff and incarcerated people, but also our communities.
More than 2,000 hearings have been held since the program began, saving more than 20,000 miles of travel and nearly 1,000 staff-hours.
“This program has not only saved taxpayer money, it has created efficiencies and resulted in thousands of miles saved in travel,” Allison added. “Inspired by Judge Wolf’s leadership and innovation, we plan to expand this program to other counties to create even more efficiencies. We remain committed to continuing to work with our partners, and finding ways to advance how we use technology in the system that aligns with public safety and due process.”
Video, photos and story by Krissi Khokhobashvili, Chief, Office of External Affairs.
Video edited by Clarissa Resultant, CDCR TV Specialist.
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