Information is the key to the future of managing jails, and in this age of web-based technology, information means data. As they say: information is power, but it’s useless if you can’t access and understand it.
Many of America’s jails still use computer systems that hide information that officials need to manage institutions and inmates. Some record-keeping systems force users to create informal ways of tracking information from court dates to medical histories. Typically, this off-the-cuff "solution" simply means writing a note in a text-based note field — hardly the most organized way to keep track of such important data. Such informal notes could include classification of behavior information or follow-up information for an inmate. Maybe they were using some of these text-based note fields for setting up upcoming court dates.
Relying on a non-integrated system of record-keeping defeats the purpose of keeping records in the first place, because information cannot be easily retrieved. And, using antiquated systems, employees tend to go with the flow, tap into what they can when they can and hope for the best.
The problem with such random record-keeping is that when employees start creating their own sub-systems, such as e-mailing notes back and forth, important knowledge dissipates in the process.
Unlocking data is a big part of the future of jail management. In fact, data is so vital to jail management that in 2016, the federal government launched the Data-Driven Justice Initiative (DDJ) with a bipartisan coalition of 67 city, county and state governments. According to the White House press release, the DDJ’s “innovative strategies, which have measurably reduced jail populations in several communities, help stabilize individuals and families, better serve communities, and often save money in the process.”
Mobility will also be an increasingly important aspect of jail management systems. For example, corrections officers will be able to access the behavioral history of an offender on the spot and update the information as needed; simultaneously, the inmate’s counselor or probation officer will have access to the latest data on that individual.
During my software demonstrations for Offender360, I shed light on the ability to find answers to questions like these: over the last six months, what have been the top ten booking charges, and of those, how many were sentenced or dismissed? How many are enrolled in programs to prevent them from committing the same or similar crime down the road?
By leveraging web-based technology that allows data sharing, Tribridge Offender360 accelerates the overall transfer of knowledge, allowing jail managers to be freed of their reliance on paper and outdated systems. Mobility, automation and flexibility- the future of jail management systems - depends on these concepts, relying both on better collection and management data as well as more intelligent use of it.
Reach out for a demo on Offender360 to see how modern jail management software can help you access and better understand data.