Outdated Paper Waste

Emily Gregoire and Jane Little

October 21, 2015

For North Carolina’s court system, paper waste is becoming a massive problem. Cases are printed and filed manually, and then are archived and saved for seven years. When stacked on top of each other, the pieces of paper would be as tall as ten Empire State Buildings.

In order to retrieve a court document, N.C. residents are required to go to the courthouse and search through computer databases. In a time of constant technological innovation, it is rare to come upon such a system. The introduction of up-to-date technology could reduce the amount of paper waste. Between 2011 and 2014, technology funds for the court system have been cut by 40 percent, which makes it difficult to update technology to the level necessary to promote court system transparency the courts create and also make access to court records easier for residents.

The paper waste problem exists due to an overall lack of funding allowed to the court system, only 2.21 percent of the entire N.C. budget, which thus impacts the available technology. About $16 million is set aside for technology updates, though when divided between N.C.’s 100 counties, some of which have multiple courthouses, it becomes chump change.

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