Pennsylvania taxpayers see incredible savings thanks to video conferencing

Friday, June 24 2011

When governments take steps to reduce spending in these lean economic times, their methods must be sound. CBS affiliate WHP TV in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, reports that the state has released the results of research regarding the Keystone State's experiment with letting prisoners appear in court via web conferencing. The results, despite a mixed reception from lawmakers and judges, seem to be positive.

While not all defendants can appear before a judge and jury over the internet, Pennsylvania has been conducting appeals and testimony for prisoners being held at state facilities. According to the report, Pennsylvania has saved over $21 million in transportation and security for prisoners. Most of the savings come from freeing officers who are specified to escort inmates, giving them the oppurtunity to focus on fresh cases. Additionally, state and county vehicles no longer need to be set aside for transport.

"The use of video conferencing enhances security by reducing the risk of defendant escape or assault on transport officers, judges and anyone in the courtroom," according to Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille. It "improves court efficiency and saves tax dollars by reducing court costs associated with defendant transportation."