From her bench in New Haven, Ct., U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton listened intently as a convicted Bridgeport drug dealer and his lawyer pleaded for a reduction in his 188-month sentence, reports the Connecticut Post in Bridgeport. Mark Aranjo and his lawyer, Gary Weinberger, were 270 miles away in an empty courtroom near the federal prison in Allenwood, Pa. Through the magic of the Internet, video cameras and microphones, Arterton could see and hear Weinberger and Aranjo speak. “This was the first time we used the system for a sentencing,” said Kevin Rowe, clerk of the federal courts in Connecticut. “We have only been able to go live a couple months ago.”
Each of the state’s three federal courthouses has the system, which can be rolled into any courtroom if needed. The images and voice are broadcast over a dial-up network and appear in real time, albeit with an occasional spike in the pictures. Rowe says the system may allow state inmates to participate in federal court hearings from remote institutions. “It’s clear it’s going to be a cost-saving service,” he said. After hearing about the help Aranjo gives to other prisoners at Allenwood, the judge halved Aranjo’s sentence to 94 months – just under eight years.