Restraining orders by telepresence — and why the law needs to catch up with tech
Over the last four years, St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in Passaic County, N.J. has helped 90 victims of domestic violence get 39 restraining orders, all from the emergency room and without their ever needing to set foot in a courthouse. That’s thanks to off-the-shelf Polycom videoconferencing technology and a partnership with a local Passaic County judge’s office.
That number may seem really low — barely even a drop in the ocean, when you consider that nonprofit Safe Horizon estimates one in four American women (and more than three million men) will face domestic violence in their lifetimes. And it is low. But it’s also a light pointing the way forward, even as it spotlights how far the law has to go to intelligently apply technology to real problems faced by millions of Americans.