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Videoconferencing in the courts: the most effective response to the problems of justice

How to fight the overcrowding of prisons and slow justice. A success story from distant Australia.

Among the public administration sectors that can benefit more from business video conferencing, there is the judicial one. In addition to the well-known cost and time savings, the ability to connect to remote video also improves security and reduces the stress of detainees and penitentiary police. In Italy, one of the most prominent advocates of videoconference is the anti-mafia prosecutor Nicola Gratteri, who has repeatedly called for her introduction to our judicial system. If there is still a lot to be done in our country, in others the systematic use of videoconferencing for the hearings of detainees, listening to witnesses and other similar activities is already a reality.

The Australian case

Anglo-Saxon countries, often at the forefront in science and technology, are among the most credible of the videoconferencing potential of the judiciary. It is the case of Australia, where listening to the testimonies of detainees in a court video conferencing, without moving them from jail, is bound to become a daily practice. The country, in fact, faces an increase in the prison population which presents uncommon challenges in terms of costs and staff. Video conference systems have already been installed in four prisons and 11 state courtrooms in Victoria to respond to the growing demand for court hearings in recent years. It is the same magistrate leader Peter Lauritsen to explain that extending the use of free group video conferencing in the courts allows to hold more hearings and more types. In particular, when hearings concern domestic violence, people may choose to remotely connect, even from a simple webconference tablet, thus relieving the emotional impact and the stress generated by these situations. Teleconferences also reduce administrative costs related to attorney prison visits.

Overcrowded Prisons

The urgency of the project came out last year, after only one month more than 100 inmates could not go to court for scheduled hearings – including those for bail – at the time of the overcrowding of prison prisons . Prison prisons have, in fact, grown from an average of over 4,500 inmates in 2010/11 to 5,800 in 2013/14, mostly because of the greater number of people who were denied or abolished conditional release. On the contrary, this year, lawyers and other jobseekers will be able to communicate from their laptops, tablets and smartphones to courts and prisons through the web conference.

Videoconferencing: the most effective and economical solution

Last year, the state of Victoria decided to extend court opening hours to six days a week and weekly hearings were held in a local county courtroom to lighten the pressure on classrooms and administration staff state. But that was not enough. That is how video conference systems have become the long-term solution to the problems of justice. A story, that of distant Australia, which interests us closely. Given the many problems of our judicial system – from overcrowding to prisons to slow justice – the introduction of videoconferencing is the fastest and most effective solution. This is a choice that entails a very low cost.

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