Steven Matthews has a vision; a vision of improving 80,000 lives managed by the Illinois Department of Corrections, and in turn, the public safety of the State of Illinois. It is a lofty vision and one he aims to accomplish using Microsoft Dynamics CRM technology. It is a misconception that CRM software is just for sales and marketing. For visionaries like Steven Matthews, Chief Information Officer for the Illinois Department of Corrections, it is a platform to transform entire industries – or in this case an entire state. The Illinois Department of Corrections plans to use Microsoft Dynamics CRM in its completely integrated justice system. It will be used to track the history and movement of 50,000 inmates and 30,000 parolees in order to better monitor their care as well as to facilitate access to appropriate services and programs for rehabilitation.
From Stone Age to Space Age
The current system of record used by the Illinois Department of Corrections was acquired in the early 1980's from The Caterpillar Tractor Company. It was basically an inventory management system used to manage spare parts that was adapted to manage the movement of inmates from one cell block to another. Even worse, it ran on an antiquated mainframe system that cost the state $900,000 per month to maintain. "New laws and legislation in the last decades have driven the need for certain data and reports that the legacy system simply couldn't handle. It would take 2 weeks to 2 months to write a program to run against the mainframe to get a report; by that time, the information was late or stale. Also, there was a lot of information that was simply not being captured about each individual," said Matthews. In December 2012 the Illinois Department of Corrections started using 7,500 seats of Microsoft Dynamics CRM online. The system is used in 3 shifts with approximately 300-400 concurrent users at any given time.
Phase 1 – Good Conduct Program
The first step toward the integrated justice system is using Dynamics CRM to track and manage good behavior credits. Offenders are eligible for good behavior credits, which translate into early release. For example, good behavior credits are given for inmates who earn their GEDs while incarcerated. Dynamics CRM is currently used to track and manage who, what, when, where and how people receive those credits. According to Matthews, "Since December 2012, 10,000 incarcerated citizens have been evaluated in the program; 5,000 were released and of the 5,000 less than 9% returned. That is a 9% recidivism rate for this early release program." The average cost of incarceration in Illinois is $21,000 per year or about $60 per day. 700,000 days of good conduct were awarded which is close to $34 million in savings in capital expenses. Just the pure operating costs, to feed and clothe an inmate, are $20 a day; that is still a savings of $14 million. The Dynamics CRM system has paid for itself several times over. "With Microsoft Dynamics CRM we have been able to reduce the prison population 10% in 2 years without even really trying. If the program was aggressively supported we could do much more," said Matthews.
Phase 2 – Integrated Justice System
Dynamics CRM will give the Illinois Department of Corrections the power to track and manage data about each inmate including educational history, medical and mental health history, medications and training program participation. "Ultimately we are responsible to change and modify behavior of a certain demographic -- a demographic that struggles with little or no education, little or no job opportunities, an infusion of drugs, which becomes a breeding ground for sexual predators, which leads to mental health issues. Then they find themselves in our care, and we have to correct and modify that. In order to do that we need data," said Matthews. When the Illinois Department of Corrections starts integrating business intelligence they will be able to identify offenders who need specific programs and services such as mental health services, job training and medications. Matthews continued, "We can focus the resources to the right individuals and we can identify the programs and services that are more effective and efficient than others; those will be the ones we will fund and focus our attention on. This will impact public safety and society as a whole."
Although the vision is there, the wheels of government are slow. The current plan is to turn off the mainframe and make Microsoft Dynamics CRM the official system of record as of May 2015. No doubt Steven Matthews and his team will continue working toward this goal and the transformation of the Illinois Department of Corrections into a technology leader.