Courts are embracing videoconferencing as a way for defendants to appear before a judge without leaving prison or jail, says a survey by the National Center for State Courts reported by USA Today. As state and local governments see their budgets squeezed, they are looking for ways to save money through technology, says Kannan Sreedhar of Verizon Connected Healthcare Solutions. When his company demonstrated its Telejustice products at a meeting of the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials, he was stunned by the level of interest.
Sreedhar says the newer technology is based on Internet protocols offering higher resolution than previous generations, and it’s easier to operate. Mobile video units can be used in hospital rooms, mental health facilities and other venues to arraign people too sick to appear in court. When the National Center for State Courts surveyed court systems in September, 100 of the 162 that responded were already using videoconferencing for some criminal matters. Pennsylvania estimates it has saved $31 million, and Utah courts have reduced transportation costs by one-third. The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services began using videoconferencing this year for inmates who appeal grievance hearings to court.