It costs Connecticut at least $1,600 every time murder suspect Joshua Komisarjevsky appears in a courtroom, says the Associated Press. He is a high security inmate, facing charges of murder, rape, and arson from a 2007 home invasion in which a woman and her two daughters were killed in Cheshire. When Komisarjevsky was due in family court this year on an unrelated matter, officials opted for a teleconference. With high fuel prices and tight budgets, Connecticut and at least 10 other states – Kansas, Louisiana, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Tennessee use teleconferences between judges and inmates to improve public safety and save money.
Although some inmates would prefer to plead their cases in person, correction officials believe technology offers a fair alternative to spending millions of dollars moving inmates in person. Greg Hurley of the National Center for State Courts said teleconferencing began cropping up in the mid-1990s. As the equipment has improved, more state prisons and courts have embraced the technology. Kansas is moving toward expanding teleconferencing. It already uses the technology for parole hearings and internal disciplinary matters. Pennsylvania has been using teleconferencing since the mid-1990s. A spokeswoman for the state prison system said it was originally used to let inmate patients meet with a doctor. Today, it’s used for court cases, parole hearings, and immigration hearings.