To save money and the environment, courts turn to video conferencing

Monday, May 9 2011

As the technology becomes more affordable, web conferences are increasing as a means for city and state court systems to hand down judgements.

The Associated Press reports that many courts, including some in Pennsylvania, Georgia, New York and Ohio, have installed video conferencing software in courthouses and prisons for the times when testimony or appearances between the two are necessary.

Video conferencing allows governments to save money on transportation and administrative costs. The amount of money necessary to simply transport a suspect from prison to a courthouse for various types of hearings makes this web technology appealing. Administrative costs are also quite low when video technology is used. Fewer transfers of witnesses and suspects requires less paperwork and creates a more efficient carriage of justice.

The state of Pennsylvania announced that it expects to save over $30 million over the next five years after implementing web conferences for most of its court hearings. New York City claims to have broadcast over 1,500 suspects, witnesses and other officials in court cases last year.

In addition to saving money for local governments that are experiencing a financial crunch, web conferencing can also help cities and states become more environmentally friendly. With less of a need for the transportation of prisoners comes less paper from paperwork and fewer carbon emissions from vehicles.