All around Europe, large investments have been done to project, develop and implement new information and communication technologies (ICT) in the justice sector. ICT has often been presented by policy makers to the public as a powerful tool to introduce and support changes, but also as an element of modernization per se, as the key for “bringing the justice administration into the modern age”. As recent studies seem to shows, this is not always the case. This paper study ICT innovation in the Italian public prosecutor offices (PPOs), illustrating how organizational constraints have affected the deployment of the systems. During the last 20 years, the Italian Ministry of Justice has launched a large number of projects that cover almost every task performed by PPOs. A description of the Italian judicial ICT history and of the most relevant and interesting experiences will be provided. The mix of failures and successful deployments will provide the occasion for a meaningful reflection on the innovation approaches adopted in this very complex and highly regulated environment.

The work is based on data collected thorough a research project funded by the European Commission and through several case studies focused on specific applications and carried out through the years by the researchers of the Italian Research Institute on Judicial Systems (IRSIG-CNR). Such researches have been conducted with a qualitative interdisciplinary approach, based on direct observation of practices in action and informal interviews, coupled with an analysis of formal documentation.