Laptop computers in the courtroom give our employees the same access to our database of information that they would have in the office, including email capability. The laptops can access the Offender Information System (OIS), in which in excess of 250,000 offender records are stored. The computers can instantly tell whether an offender is in violation status and has a pending warrant; how many times they have been on supervision in the past; case notes of interactions between the supervising Agent and the offender; plus all financial records.
The judge will be able to know if an offender has been able to successfully complete supervision in the past, and thus, be a suitable candidate for further community supervision. The laptops also eliminate confusion because they provide a photo and other identifying information about the defendant. And because the data is good throughout the state and is updated daily, it eliminates the paperwork "shuffle" that results when offenders cross county lines to violate their supervision or commit other crimes.
The laptops save tremendously on the use of Agents' and other staff time. Agents no longer have to sit in a courtroom for hours at a time waiting for their case to come up for a decision by a judge. If the administrative person in the courtroom has a question, he or she can quickly e‑mail someone back at the office for an answer. Finally, the employee with the laptop can immediately update records in the courtroom to lessen any potential confusion later on.
At the end of May, 2005, all 46 counties had laptops placed and operational in their Circuit Courtrooms. Funding for this program was provided by the South Carolina Department of Public Safety under a Drug Control and System Improvement Program grant.