Through an initiative launched this month, public defenders in King County (WA) will now be able to communicate via voice mail with their in-custody clients. This project is being implemented by Community Voice Mail National Office (CVM), Seattle CVM (hosted by Solid Ground), the Northwest Defenders Association (NDA) and the King County Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention (DAJD).
NDA attorneys and paralegals are assigning private CVM voice mail boxes to their in-custody clients. Attorneys and paralegals leave private messages for clients on the voice mail which the clients check regularly from the phone in the jail. They simply type in a speed dial code, their voice mail box extension and a unique password to access the messages.
The communication is one-way only – providing the attorneys with a quick, efficient way to get short messages to their clients about upcoming hearings and meetings thus saving them time and money usually expended by trips to the jail. The service is a great supplement to in-person visits with clients.
While in-custody clients are prevented from using their CVM box for any purpose other than to receive messages from their attorney (via several security measures in place to ensure the system is used solely for its intended purpose), those who lack a reliable phone with private messaging can get access to a fully functioning CVM number upon their release from jail from the NDA.
The first voice mail box was distributed on April 6, 2009 and as of April 27, 28 boxes are currently in use. CVM National and the King County DAJD have plans to make this service available to other local defender organizations once the pilot phase is completed.