Criminal investigations involve a good deal of physical evidence provided from multiple sources. While evidence collected at the crime scene and from witnesses play the most crucial role in the prosecution of a crime, the communications that a suspect carries out during the investigation can also be relevant to the case. One major method of communication that a suspect might use while held in jail is through the video visitation system. In this article, we will examine two valuable sources of evidence that can be gained from these communications.
The Confession, Streamed Live From Video Visitation
The first and most obvious source of evidence in a case that can be provided by the video visitation system is a recorded visit in which the suspect confesses to the crime or provides some clues as to where he might have stashed some valuable evidence. We at MTI have experienced a good number of cases in which our customers have obtained the decisive piece of evidence from a recorded video visitation session between a suspect and friend or family member. One sheriff told us that he was amazed at how open inmates are about the crimes they’ve committed when visiting with a loved one, even after being warned on screen and in print about the fact that visits are recorded.
The MTI Video Visitation system is configured to record by default to ensure that all public visits are recorded. This avoids the scenario where a visitation officer forgets to select a visit for recording, and crucial evidence is lost. On the flip side of this, it also avoids the scenario in which a visitation officer accidentally chooses to record a private visit between an attorney and an inmate.
In most cases, recorded visitation sessions are admissible as evidence. You should always consult your agency’s attorney as to the state laws regarding recorded communications of any kind.
To ensure that a recorded session is reliable evidence, MTI has developed a proprietary media format which is portable to any Windows, Mac, or Linux PC. The format does not require the installation of a player, as the player comes embedded in the file. Because this format is proprietary to MTI, concerns about the possibility of tampering with the evidence are all but eliminated. The file format also allows for export of the audio of the conversation to a standard WAV format.
History Can Prove The Point
Another source of evidence provided by the Video Visitation system is the call history itself. Reports can be generated that show who visited the suspect, when, for how long, and how often. This information can be useful in showing who is associated with the suspect. While this information might not be direct evidence, it can help investigators pinpoint accomplices or persons-of-interest.
With the MTI system, the call history can be searched by date range, inmate, visitor, or any combination of those. The results of a search can be exported to a comma-delimited file, which can then be used with Microsoft Excel or other business applications. The report can also be printed to PDF for distribution or presentation as evidence.
Video visitation data can be an invaluable source of evidence, as well as a way to connect the dots and find witnesses and evidence.