No Judgement – Just Solutions

In the above video, the Honorable Fred Moses highlights the critical role of broadband infrastructure, particularly in rural America, in enabling effective and equitable justice. His comments, filmed at NTCA’s SRC Live, summarize his participation in that event’s panel titled, Things in Society We Don’t Often Like to Talk About. Mose’s comments focus on the challenges of protecting domestic violence victims, as well as ensuring people succeed in drug court programs.

As background, Moses is the Hocking County, Ohio Municipal Court judge, Hocking County, Ohio is nestled amidst the rolling hills of rural Appalachia. Hocking County’s rural nature means transportation challenges for those without a car, while the hills create spotty cellular service areas.

In another interview, The Impact of Stigma | Judge Fred Moses on Giving a Second Chance (YouTube) talks about his people-first approach, which, for example, manifests itself in the medication-assisted treatment Drug Court Program that he spearheaded and has been in effect since 2012. In that video, he provides an overview of the challenges and stigma for people who are in drug court. 

He explains that almost everybody in that program has a dual diagnosis of drug and mental health issues.[1]  He reminds viewers that

“People have value no matter where are, no matter what they have done, and no matter where they come from; there’s a value to a human life.”

Honorable Fred Moses

Broadband Is Increasingly an Important Part of the Justice System

Although in-person is ideal, broadband access is an element that has become crucial for providing treatment and support to individuals involved in the court system. The court utilizes Telehealth services for drug court programs and probation meetings and these services were essential for maintaining court operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Substance abuse and intimate partner violence (IPV) are often intertwined, as data presented in the aforementioned SRC Live panel suggests that 40 to 60% of all IPV incidents involve substance abuse. Moses emphasizes the importance of broadband for domestic violence victims, stating that “good monitoring of the defendants during that time is really important to protect the safety of the victims.”

He also stresses the need for victims to have broadband access to protect themselves, noting that “if they have a device on which they can, where they can press a button and it goes directly to law enforcement, that would be a lifesaver.”

Despite the clear benefits of broadband technology, Moses acknowledges the ongoing challenges of spotty access in rural areas. He notes that while most people in his community are willing to come to court in person, there are instances where broadband is necessary for individuals to participate in court proceedings. He points out the difficulties in enforcing sanctions and monitoring offenders due to the lack of broadband access.

Looking ahead, Moses expressed optimism about the potential of broadband to further enhance access to justice in rural communities. Moses concluded by emphasizing the cost-effectiveness of investing in broadband infrastructure, highlighting the savings in court costs, law enforcement expenses, and incarceration costs that can be achieved by providing greater access to justice. He stated that

“the cost savings of people driving to court for minor offenses, to keep the safety of the victims, all those things balance out.”

Honorable Fred Moses

Interview Highlights

[1] According to a 2018 infographic from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 37.9% of adults with substance abuse disorders also had mental illnesses.

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