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Virtual sentencing hearings help keep court system moving during the pandemic

State court officials say hundreds of jailed people have virtually attended their sentencing hearings by using a cart with a laptop, signature pad, fingerprint reader and printer.

The program is one example of how technology has helped keep the Maricopa County Superior Court system moving during the pandemic.

Judicial Clerk Supervisor Tiana Burdick said virtual sentencing hearings can get certain people out of jail faster.

“So especially ones who are going to be sentenced to probation and are looking to be released. So that we’re not holding them up.,” she said.

Burdick also said the virtual sentencing hearings also aid people ordered to serve prison time and want to be transferred from jail to the state Department of Corrections.

Phoenix New Times has  reported that surging COVID-19 cases, and a major staffing shortage at the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, have caused chaos in the jails.

Matthew Casey has won Edward R. Murrow awards for hard news and sports reporting since he joined KJZZ as a senior field correspondent in 2015.