Video conferences between lawyers and suspects save governments money

Tuesday, May 24 2011

Every movie or television program about the police invariably has a scene in which suspects are told their rights. One right that everyone remembers: the right to an attorney. Yet most people probably don't think about where that attorney comes from. In fact, city and state governments pay for them, and it can be expensive.

According to The Tennessean, counties around Nashville have begun experimenting with video conferencing technology to ease their financial burden that comes with providing lawyers for suspects. Davidson County Jail has installed telephones, monitors and webcams so that inmates and suspects can communicate with their public defenders easily and cheaply.

Normally, the county would pay the attorney's hourly rate, as well as for gas money to and from the prison to meet with their clients. The use of web conferencing cuts down on the amount of time that each lawyer is on the clock, as well as removes most trips and fuel costs from the attorney's bill. Davidson County estimates that it will save at least $300,000 a year thanks to this arrangement.