Video links for courts seems sensible

The Herald reports:

Justice will be administered through video links under a Government proposal that would revolutionise the court system and save millions of dollars a year.

Criminals could be sentenced over a video link with the jail, rather than by being brought to the dock, and judges would preside over cases remotely instead of from the bench.

The “virtual courtrooms” could eventually fulfil the principle of open justice by allowing the public to watch over the internet.

I think it would be great if people could watch trials over the Internet.

“Middle-range” estimates calculated it would cost $22 million to install and run the technology in 52 places over four years.

Over that time, it would save $43.1 million.

Mr Power said the use of video links would be part of a new criminal procedure bill intended to be made public by the end of the year and in force by the end of 2010.

Official advice prepared for Mr Power says video links will reduce delays and benefit all court-users who have to travel to be there – victims, witnesses, defendants, judges, lawyers and parties in civil disputes.

The official advice says an example of cost savings would be the $22.3 million a year spent on transporting prisoners under the current requirement that they be in court every time something happens involving their case, even if it is a routine procedural matter.

There is a limit to what you do by video link. I don’t think you want Judges running a trial from the bedroom via video link for example! But certainly not having to transport prisoners backwards and forwards for routine hearings is something that should be done as a minimum.

Saving money is good. But even better is reducing delays in justice which benefits everyone.

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