Jail visits via video coming for public defenders office

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Attorneys from the Charleston County Public Defenders Office soon may be able to meet with clients at the detention center without having to leave their office.

On Thursday, Charleston County Council may vote to upgrade the jail's video conference system.

The upgrade will allow public defenders to communicate with their clients from their desktop computers.

"Three out of every four weeks they're in court and they have less time to run to the jail and see them," said Chief Public Defender Ashley Pennington. "People can't trust their doctor if they don't talk to them, people can't trust their lawyer if they can't talk to them."

Right now there are four booths available at the county jail to public defender attorneys who want to meet with their clients face to face. But they have to share them with all of the private attorneys who also want to meet with their clients.

"What I'm hoping is I'll be able to use my computer, I would be able to call in to the unit, have the inmate brought to a specific site," said Pennington.

"The best thing this will do is grease the wheels of justice for the inmates and get them through the system faster and get them through the jail and either out or on to the prison system whatever the case may be," said jail administrator Chief Mitch Lucas.

The $231,000 software upgrade will be done without tax dollars.

Lucas says it will be paid for with some of the proceeds from items inmates purchase at the jail commissary.

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