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Alfano’s Digital Document Management Miracle

When he’s not passing some ad personam law or other to protect the back of his political master, angel faced Angelino Alfano, Italy’s minister of justice is doing some good.

Balance Being Restored

The merit worthy actions of Alfano have even caught the attention of the Italian RAI 3 television channel’s balanced and excellent documentary series, Report.

It is no secret that Italy’s justice system is in a mess, and paperwork has been literally piling up everywhere, contributing to the fact that Italy’s civil law justice system is one of the slowest in the world.  It can take as long as 20 years for cases to wend their ways through Italy’s tortuous and paperwork jammed legal system.  Even one of Italy’s top judges has complained about this rather embarrassing situation, and he has cause for complaint what with Italy ranking 151st out of 181 countries in terms of legal system efficiency.

Well, things may well become smoother, and a little quicker, as a result of one of Mr Alfano’s reforms.

It’s no big deal really, and even the cost is turning out to be reasonable.  Not only this, but someone had the bright idea of involving Italy’s prison population in the process.  So what has been going on?  The answer lies in technology, and something called digital document storage.

The Digitalisation of Court Records

According to RAI 3’s Report, Italy has been going about the process of putting official legal documents onto computer hard drives.  All that was needed was commercially available software, a scanner and a good old personal computer.  After being processed, the digital documents; the civil system so far; are ready to be burned onto a DVD and distributed to lawyers carrying out legal research and dealing with ongoing cases.

One example given during Report showed a small room packed with files relating to a Telecom Italia case, all of which had been digitized to fit comfortably onto three DVDs.  Excellent.

What is not clear is whether all these documents are searchable, which is doubtful.  Still, one step at a time, and some progress is much better than none whatsoever, as I am sure many of Italy’s lawyers will agree.  And the savings relating to photocopying costs must be considerable too.  Quite a few trees may well be breathing a sigh of relief as well!

And digital document storage will save an enormous amount of space too.   However, it’s not what you do but the way that you do it that counts, and here too, Italy scores a few points.

Captive ‘Employees’

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To help speed up the legal document digitization process, Italy has enrolled the services of some of its prison population.  Another stroke of genius.

This means that as well as getting all those documents digitized as fast as possible, those who have wondered away from the straight and narrow have something meaningful to do with their time inside.

In addition to keeping these people occupied, and effectively having them pay their way, being involved in the digitization process gives the prisoners a sense of purpose.  What would be fantastic would be if these people, after they paid their price to society, could be offered paid work to continue helping with the digitization process on the outside.  Such work might even help keep ex-cons out of Italy’s prisons in future.

Actually, I would take this a step further, and have judges sentencing petty criminals in Italy to six months or so of legal document digitization duties.  Not a bad idea for other countries either.

Whatever, good job Mr Alfano!

Credit to the Berlusconi Government

Berlusconi does Some Good
Berlusconi does Some Good

What is so annoying about the hole Berlusconi seems to be digging for himself at the moment is that, in some respects, his government is doing some good things for Italy.  And Berlusconi is no fool, if only he would show a little humility, and be a little less arrogant, he could well be a prime minister Italy would be proud of.  He has some good people in office.  Alfano is one.

The dynamic little public sector reformer Brunetta is another.  Then there is Roberto Marroni, Italy’s red bespectacled Interior Minister who has been tackling Italy’s sticky mafia problem admirably and had the guts to decide to turn back the boat people floating over to Italy from Africa.

While some might consider this as being the act of a xenophobe, Italy was having a serious problem managing all these people and something desperately needed to be done.  By turning the boats back, as well as sending a message to the unscrupulous people who run these illegal ferry services that their party is over, Marroni may well be saving lives too.

What gets me about these boat refugees, is that the money they pay for the trips over the Med in rickety boats is probably the about the same as the cost of a much safer plane fare to Italy.

Source:  RAI 3 Report – Goodnews – Giusto un Click – in Italian

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