YOU ARE HERE: HeraldMail HomeCollectionsJail

Bond reviews could be done by video

November 16, 1997

Bond reviews could be done by video


Staff Writer

The daily transport of prisoners between jail and court for bond reviews may soon be replaced by video, according to Washington County Sheriff Charles Mades.

And discussions are under way to possibly move the bond commissioners out of the Washington County District Court building and into more secure space at the Washington County Detention Center.

"Security is a problem, time is a problem and money is a problem,'' Mades said.

Some days, dozens of prisoners are being ferried to Washington County District Court, 35 W. Washington St., from the jail on the Western Maryland Parkway.


The sheer numbers are really starting to create difficulties, and opportunities for prisoners to escape, Mades said.

"The pre-trial inmate today is as bad as society can imagine,'' Mades said.

The WCDC used to have a daily population of 180 - now that's up to as many as 420 a day, Mades said.

"I have written to Judge Martha Rasin, chief judge of the District Court of Maryland,'' Mades said.

She has written back that she is looking into some changes.

Already bond reviews are being done by video in Frederick County District Court, Mades said. And the commissioners who set bond at initial appearances in that county are at the Frederick County Detention Center.

Mades is hoping that both of those advances will soon be reality in Washington County.

"I have already offered space at the jail for the bond commissioners,'' he said.

Currently the commissioners are housed in a small office at the front of the district court building. At nights and after hours, they are alone in that office.

Mades said if the commissioners move to the jail, which is several miles west of Hagerstown, public transportation would have to be established.

"The County Commuter used to run out here to the jail and possibly that could be available again,'' Mades said.

Bond reviews by video would find the judge and the prosecution in the courtroom, while the prisoner and the defense attorney - if there is one - are at the jail.

The interactive system allows questions and answers and then bond is set. No inmates have to to transported anywhere, Mades said.

Paperwork would be ferried back and forth several times a day, Mades said.

Mades estimates that he would ask the county for about $75,000 in start-up money for the video equipment needed to do bond reviews between the jail/courtroom.

"We would recoup that money in just a few years,'' Mades said, pointing to the savings in staff time and transporting costs.

A company in Arizona has given a presentation on how the video system works, plugging right into the telephone lines, Mades said.

The Herald-Mail Articles