One of the great coordination issues for a detention facility is the accommodation of inmate-attorney visits. Inmates have a constitutional right to confer with their attorneys, and attorneys have demanding schedules that limit their time and availability. Video visitation is an often-overlooked means of meeting the constitutional needs of the inmate, the time constraints of the attorney, and the security concerns of the detention facility.
Privacy and Video Visitation
Before explaining how video visitation can benefit the three interested parties, let’s address the primary concern raised by attorneys when asked to use video visitation for consultations: privacy. Privacy is the penultimate concern of the attorney because he or she is ethically obligated to provide it to his or her client. Attorneys resist the use of any technology which is not fully within their control. Because video visitation is administered by a law enforcement agency over an uncontrolled medium like the Internet, the assumption is that there is no reasonable assurance of privacy.
However, all video visitation systems, and especially the MTI Connexus system, are designed with privacy in mind. There are two ways that the MTI system ensures privacy.
First, privacy is ensured within the MTI system through the use of a proprietary communications protocol. This protocol is not a published, standard protocol, which ensures that hackers in the public domain cannot easily divine the means of communication between attorney and client. This obscurity is a common tactic in providing privacy.
Second, privacy is ensured through built-in restrictions that prevent the facility staff from monitoring or recording an attorney visit. Facility staff have no control over whether a visit is monitored or recorded. This is determined exclusively by the system based on the attorney’s privilege settings or based on the booth that he uses (more on that later).
With the concern for privacy allayed, you may be wondering how video visitation can accommodate attorney visits. There are three common ways that MTI has provided for attorney visits.
Designated Attorney Booths
A popular way to provide attorney visits with on-premise video visitation systems is through the use of designated attorney booths. These booths are often located within a private room where the attorney can have complete isolation from the general public to freely speak with his client. Some facilities have even installed special hardware like a large monitor and hands-free microphone to provide a more immersive experience for the inmate and attorney. Within the MTI system, these booths can be designated as attorney booths, which prevents any visit conducted from these booths from being monitored or recorded.
Free Public Defender Access
Another option for attorney visits is the provision of a free pre-paid code that public defenders can then use to conduct visits through the standard From-Home feature of the MTI system. With this pre-paid code, a public defender can use the mobile or desktop Connexus app to conduct a visit at a scheduled time. The facility can also accommodate on-demand attorney visits by connecting the inmate and attorney using the attorney’s registered telephone number. Using this method, public defenders would be designated as “privileged” visitors, and as a consequence, their visits would not be monitored or recorded.
Remote Attorney Access
Similar to the previous option, attorneys can use the Connexus mobile or desktop app to schedule a visit with their clients. The facility has the option to provide a pre-paid code for all attorneys or simply allow the attorneys to purchase time for use with the system. Like the previous option, attorneys would be designated as “privileged” visitors, preventing their visits from being monitored or recorded.
Meeting The Needs of Each Party
As mentioned at the beginning, video visitation can be the solution to meeting the needs of each interested party for inmate-attorney visits. While video visitation will never by the answer to every possible inmate-attorney visit scenario, it can be used to accommodate the majority of visit requirements. Sure, video visitation can’t address the need to have an inmate sign documents. Nor, can it always be used for a long case-planning session. But, often times an attorney simply needs to ask her client a question, or inform him of a change in the court date. When speed and convenience are the primary concern, video visitation can address the need. It can provide the privacy the attorney requires, the consultation the inmate needs, and the security the facility administration expects.
If you would like more information about the MTI Connexus Video Visitation, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or give us a call at 1-800-392-8292.