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Griffo Bill Calls For Mandatory Video Arraignment Of Prisoners

Griffo Inmate Electronic Appearance Bill
Jeanette Lenoir, WIBX

Utica, NY (WIBX) – State Senator Joseph A. Griffo, (R-C-IP, Rome)  is sponsoring legislation that aims to make it mandatory for an inmate to undergo the arraignment process electronically. Griffo says the move will assist law enforcement officials and make these types of legal proceedings safer and more efficient for all involved. He says currently inmates have a choice to appear through video arraignment.

“And that bothered me. So, as we did research I said I believe that that has to be changed, it has to be changed for a number of reasons. Not only to support those who are protecting us and serving us in Criminal Justice, but also looking at government efficiency,” he said. Griffo says the bill he’s proposing will stream line the process, reduce cost, and protect officers involved in the transport of inmates. The legislation to amend the state’s Criminal Procedure Law is supported by Oneida County Sheriff Robert Maciol and Oneida County District Attorney, Scott McNamara.

Sheriff  Maciol said his office has already secured grant funding from the state that will help with the purchase of the equipment needed to record the arraignment proceedings. “I think this bill is crucial. Earlier this year, The Oneida County Sheriff’s Office was awarded from the state a $30,000 grant to purchase the mobile video conferencing equipment so that our facility within the next several weeks here will be up and running. The video conferencing equipment will be in place, in service, ready for use for this purpose. Certainly before that, we will be using it for a whole wide array of things.” He said if the bill passes next year, it will allow his office to reach long range goals sooner.

District Attorney McNamara said he commends Griffo for taking on the challenge to amend the legal system, something he says is “very hard” to do. “I see it as a plus. It’s a very dangerous situation to bring the defendants in. Most of our Town Courts do not have security. The only security that’s there is the police officers bringing the prisoner in, so we’re already in a situation where there’s no security in the court rooms.” He says currently there has to be two police officers with the prisoner during the arraignment process, which makes it very costly for law enforcement. He adds that the new technology will still protect an inmates constitutional and due process rights. S5686 is scheduled for debate in January.

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