Futuristic Courtroom Debuts in Mountain State
First Use of Bell Atlantic's New WEST VIRGINIA 2001sm Network
April 21, 1998
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A new brand of court TV has come to West Virginia.
Some inmates in Kanawha and Cabell County who "approach the bench" may
be facing a camera lens instead.
In a demonstration today, West Virginia judicial and law enforcement
officials unveiled their Courtroom of the Future - a fully interactive
video system that is one of the first of its kind in the nation. The
system, deployed by Bell Atlantic - West Virginia, lets judges and
magistrates conduct court proceedings remotely through high-speed
video links between courthouse and jail. Today's demonstration linked
the Kanawha County Courthouse Annex and the South Central Regional
Jail south of Charleston.
"When the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals issued an order
providing for the remote video court appearance pilot project, it
marked a new era," said Chief Justice Robin Davis. "This new
technology allows us to connect our courts, save transportation costs,
share information and improve the administration of justice."
"West Virginia is taking great strides in harnessing the power of
technology to enhance the criminal justice process," said Dennis Bone,
Bell Atlantic - West Virginia president and CEO. "Bell Atlantic is
proud to play a key role in this innovative endeavor."
With the Courtroom of the Future, prisoners in jails serving Cabell
and Kanawha counties can make pre- and post-trial court appearances
without leaving the jail facility. They are escorted to a room within
the jail complex that is equipped with a TV monitor and microphone.
The video link enables them to communicate with the court
electronically for such activities as initial appearances and
non-evidentiary, pre-trial hearings.
In addition to Bell Atlantic and the state Supreme Court, participants
in the project include the West Virginia Regional Jail and
Correctional Facility Authority, Marshall University, the counties of
Cabell and Kanawha, and the Governor's Office of Technology.
The interactive video system will have a number of other uses:
- Expert testimony can be presented from across the state or country
using the video link.
- Parole officers can conduct interviews with their clients.
- Through an agreement with Marshall, distance learning opportunities
can be offered to law enforcement officers and inmates over the
network. An instructor at Marshall, for example, will be able to
teach a class of law enforcement officers or correctional employees
located miles away. Video monitors will allow instructors and
students to interact as if they were in the same classroom. Marshall
is the first institution of higher learning in the state to take
advantage of this new technology.
- Physicians at Marshall's medical school will be able to examine and
diagnose prisoners who are in the jail complexes.
Bell Atlantic is equipping several sites in Cabell and Kanawha
counties, including courtrooms and the jails that serve them, as well
as Marshall University.
The Courtroom of the Future rides on the backbone of a new Bell
Atlantic broadband telecommunications network, which is still under
construction. Plans for the network, dubbed WEST VIRGINIA 2001, were
revealed last October by Gov. Cecil H. Underwood. In his
announcement, Underwood said the network could have as much impact on
economic development in the state as the launching of the interstate
A key component of the $20 million network, which will be completed
over the next two years, is Bell Atlantic's asynchronous transfer mode
(ATM) cell relay service. ATM technology consolidates voice, data and
video communications on a single phone line at extremely high speeds,
providing greater capacity and flexibility.
WEST VIRGINIA 2001 will enable state agencies, colleges and
universities, public schools and not-for-profit health care providers
throughout the state to offer new and innovative services and increase
Bell Atlantic - formed through the merger of Bell Atlantic and NYNEX -
is at the forefront of the new communications and information
industry. With 40.5 million telephone access lines and six million
wireless customers worldwide, Bell Atlantic companies are premier
providers of advanced wireline voice and data services, market leaders
in wireless services and the world's largest publishers of directory
information. Bell Atlantic companies are also among the world's
largest investors in high-growth global communications markets, with
operations and investments in 21 countries.