The state of Illinois had 49,000 inmates in its Department of Corrections (IDOC) facilities in 2010 and another 28,000 parolees.
With an aging mainframe system and dozens of disparate PC-based applications to manage all these offenders, the IDOC knew needed a solution to improve public safety and criminal justice for the future. To add to the urgency, the department was facing a shrinking pool of IT professionals with the skills to support the old technology.
Working with US-based Microsoft Dynamics partner and Master VAR Tribridge, IDOC developed and implemented the solution that would become Offender360, a reusable, cloud-based criminal justice information system built on Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online. When the system is fully deployed in about a year, the system will give Illinois one of the most advanced criminal justice information systems in the country, save Illinois' taxpayers millions of dollars and increase public safety across the state, according to state officials.
The mainframe solution, past and present
In 2010, the state evaluated the technology the Illinois DOC was using to manage its 49,000 inmates and 28,000 parolees. As a result of the evaluation, Illinois decided to replace a 1980s mainframe system and 41 disparate offender management applications that had become outdated and costly to use and maintain.
"We had a mainframe and some other disparate PC-based applications to support the mainframe and when we looked at what we could get off the shelf, what's out there in terms of new technology language, it was [the state's] transportation division that introduced us to Dynamics CRM," said Gladyse Taylor, assistant director of the Illinois Department of Corrections. "The fact that it was relational management - could it be applicable in the corrections setting."
Taylor said the IBM S/390 mainframe was no longer an option because the department was losing the technological expertise to support it.
"The language for the mainframe is COBOL and the expertise was retiring and fast becoming extinct so any enhancements to the mainframe or even support of it was becoming a serious and critical issue for the department," Taylor said. "We had to look at something different. Another issue was that you can't do on-demand reports from the mainframe. And then because of the disparate applications you can't really measure performance, results. It's very difficult to provide real-time information on the population."
A solution with real offender management tools
After evaluating 20 possible solutions - including one that would have cost more than $100 million - the Illinois DOC selected Microsoft Dynamics CRM to manage its statewide criminal justice population. The Illinois DOC worked with Microsoft partner Tribridge to conceptualize, develop and deploy the first version of the Offender360 system.
The Illinois DOC is undergoing a phased rollout, which should be completed by the summer of 2013.
The new system, when fully deployed, will enable the corrections department to accurately manage and track offenders both inside facilities and while on parole, and from a variety of dimensions. The solution centralizes all information on offenders to help staff make more effective and informed decisions regarding placement, rehabilitation and release. Additionally, the new system enables staff members to generate their own reports whenever necessary.
"After we were introduced to Dynamics CRM, Offender360 was our concept," Taylor said. "We are Offender360. As part of getting started with Dynamics CRM, our transportation department allowed us to leverage some of their premiere support dollars to get us technical assistance to train our developers. And that's the introduction to Tribridge and that's Tribridge's introduction to what we termed Offender360. And that's evolved into what we hope will be a very productive public and private partnership to build a comprehensive offender management system."
Taylor said the Illinois DOC is now working with Tribridge to build a complete, integrated justice system that will entail risk assessment for the population as well as integrate medical and mental health records. It will also have local government, court, and jail interfaces, she said.
Tribridge also has plans to engage with other states in deploying Offender360.
Plans beyond Illinios
"Essentially Tribridge's Offender360 Version2013 is an enterprise offender management system that leverages Microsoft Dynamics CRM," said Josh Jaquish, Managing Director of the Public Sector practice at Tribridge. "It manages all aspects of an offender's incarceration from his intake until his release. And there's a version that the Illinois Department of Correction uses. The Offender360 Version2013 that we just released includes some other functionality and components like probation and parole."
Jaquish said Tribridge created an initial solution with the Illinois DOC that is in production at the DOC today.
"Since then we've taken that and through our own investments, through our work with other customers, through work with prospects, and with the Corrections Technology Association we've built out a more robust solution, above and beyond what Illinois has - and they're eventually moving to that as well," he said.