State and Federal Corrections Information Systems

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1 U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs Bureau of Justice Statistics State and Federal Corrections Information Sstems An Inventor of Data Elements and an Assessment of Reporting Capabilities A joint project: Association of State Correctional Administrators Corrections Program Office, OJP Bureau of Justice Statistics National Institute of Justice

2 U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs Bureau of Justice Statistics State and Federal Corrections Information Sstems An Inventor of Data Elements and an Assessment of Reporting Capabilities A joint project: Association of State Correctional Administrators Corrections Program Office, OJP Bureau of Justice Statistics National Institute of Justice August 998, NCJ 76

3 Chapter 6 Reporting capabilities Highlights Forms of statistical information provided b departments Availabilit of data Table 6.. Availabilit ratings for all offender-based data elements Table 6.2. Percent of full availabilit for each stage of corrections processing Capacities to link and share data... 7 Internal capacities to extract and link archival records... 7 Table 6.3. Capacit of departments information sstems to retrieve and link historical data Capacities to provide statistical information Table 6.4. Obstacles to providing statistical information: Individual item scores Table 6.5. Obstacles to providing statistical information: Mean scores for each categor of obstacles Table 6.6. Mean categor scores for each department Table 6.7. Severit of problems in departments information sstems... 8 Summar... 8 Chapter 6 6 Reporting capabilities

4 Chapter 6 62 Reporting capabilities

5 Chapter 6 Reporting capabilities Highlights The extent to which departments maintain all 27 offender-based data elements electronicall for a large majorit of offenders ranges from 85% to 6%. Thirt-two departments rate at or above 5% for all data elements on this rating of data availabilit. Seven departments rate above 7% of full availabilit for the data elements in the profiling offenders stage. Twelve do so in the committing offenders stage, as do departments in the managing offenders stage and 9 departments in the supervising offenders stage. Departments abilit to provide statistical information about released offenders varies. All departments maintain the records of released offenders, and about half can electronicall link and retrieve archived records of these offenders when the return to prison. Onl 4 departments maintain data about the behaviors of offenders under supervision in the communit; and onl 38 maintain data on the crimes the commit while under supervision. Departments rate staffing and software problems as the most severe problems the must overcome in providing statistical information about offenders. Thirt of the 46 that rate staffing as a serious problem also rate software or data availabilit as a serious problem. Thus far, the report has focused on whether, and how, corrections information sstems maintain data elements. This chapter shifts the focus of the report to how departments use data elements and to the obstacles and barriers the confront in providing statistical information about offenders, and sharing data electronicall. Forms of statistical information provided b departments Statistical information describes outcomes, activities, or events pertaining to groups of offenders or to a corrections sstem as a whole. Such information ma be used for man purposes such as profiling the composition of offender populations; developing management and budget plans; responding to inquiries from the press, academics, or law makers; and developing corrections performance indicators. Questions such as, How man offenders are in prison for robber at earend? are commonl requested pieces of statistical information that profile offender populations. Answers to questions such as, How man offenders who were released from prison during 995 returned to the prison from which the were released within one ear of their release? are often used Chapter 6 63 Reporting capabilities

6 for evaluative purposes, either implicit or explicit. Queries about the proportion of all offenders who remained drug-free during the past ear, or the proportion of eligible offenders who were involved in prison work or training programs during the past ear often are asked as indicators of the degree to which a corrections sstem achieved a particular goal. Information officials report that departments receive man different tpes of requests for statistical information. The most common are for summar statistics about specific groups of offenders. In addition to internal departmental requests for information from corrections managers, departments also regularl provide statistical information to governors, legislators, and officials in other State agencies (e.g., State auditors, departments of education, mental health, or labor). Such summar information is used for a variet of purposes: for scheduling (courts), assessing suitabilit of offenders for placement (halfwa houses), sentencing and criminal investigations (district attorne s offices), locating dead-beat dads (social service agencies), forecasting prison population (State planning agencies), and verifing benefits (Social Securit Administration). Federal agencies request summar statistical information regularl from corrections departments. The Bureau of Justice Statistics requests summar data on several surves of corrections populations: The National Prisoner Statistics (summar data on prison admissions, releases, and stocks), the Parole Data Surve (summar statistics on offenders on parole and other forms of postincarceration supervision), and the Probation Data Surve (summar statistics on offenders on probation). For these particular surves, departments are required to provide statistical information that is based on external standards or definitions. Thirt-eight departments, for example, provide data to the Bureau of Justice Statistics National Corrections Reporting Program, which requires them to meet BJS definitional standards for counting offenders admitted into or released from prison, their form of admission, sentences imposed, and method of release. Most departments that submit data extracts to the BJS reporting program are able to meet these definitional standards. Departments that are unable to meet the definitions provide reasons wh the cannot do so. Departments also respond to requests for data extracts that requesters of the extracts intend to analze for their own purposes. Such requesters include researchers, newspapers, commercial banking sstems and other private companies. Data extracts are provided on diskette, tape, or other medium, or via File Transfer Protocol. (For example, in Oregon, several companies purchase data tape from corrections departments and resell them to other entities looking into criminal histories of potential emploees.) Chapter 6 64 Reporting capabilities

7 Availabilit of data Information sstems cannot easil fulfill requests for information if the data are not readil available for analsis or for sharing with other jurisdictions. Maintaining data elements electronicall for all (or most) offenders allows for greater data availabilit and facilitates responding to statistical inquiries. The Inventor rates data availabilit using an index that measures the extent to which departments maintain data elements electronicall for a majorit of offenders (more than 75%). The availabilit index ranges from % to %. A rating of % means that a department maintains all data elements in electronic form for the majorit of offenders (full availabilit), while a rating of % indicates that a department does not collect an of the data elements being rated. To obtain a department s score on the availabilit index, each data element in a set of elements is given a value of 3, 2,, or, depending on how the department maintains the data element. High-availabilit data elements (maintained electronicall for more than 75% of offenders) are given a value of 3. Mediumavailabilit data elements (maintained electronicall for less than 75% of offenders) are given a value of 2. Low-availabilit data elements (maintained in paper form onl) receive a value of. Finall, no-availabilit data elements (a department does not collect the element) are given a zero. After each element is scored, the sum of the values for a group of elements is computed. This sum, also known as a department s availabilit rating, is divided b the total number of points that would be obtained if all data elements were maintained as highavailabilit data elements and then multiplied b %. For example, for the 27 data offender-based data elements, Colorado receives an availabilit index of 83% of full availabilit. Colorado receives a total of 58 points as its availabilit rating out of a possible 62 points, if it maintained all data elements as high-availabilit data elements. The rating of 58 is obtained from: 68 high-availabilit elements (68 x 3 points = 54 points), 7 mediumavailabilit data elements (7 x 2 points = 4 points), and 32 no-availabilit data elements (32 x points = points). The sum of the points, , equals Colorado s score of 58. Finall, 58 divided b the 62 possible points ields the availabilit index of 83% when multiplied b %. Ten departments receive a full-availabilit rating above 7% (table 6.) for the entire set of 27 offender-based data elements. Nine of these departments are among the 4 that maintain data elements for all 4 stages. One of them is among the 2 that maintain data on 3 of 4 stages. Twent departments are rated at less than 5% of full availabilit. Generall, a department s availabilit rating increases with the number of data elements collected. For example, Iowa collects all but 5 data elements and This scoring sstem is described on pages -2 in the Introduction to this report. Chapter 6 65 Reporting capabilities

8 rates at 8% of full availabilit, and Arizona, which rates at 85%, has all but 9 data elements (table 6.). Man of the departments that rate below 5% of full availabilit collect less than half of the data elements. The two lowest rated departments, Alaska and the District of Columbia, do not collect a substantial number of data elements (57 and 56, respectivel). Within the four stages of corrections processing, the availabilit of data among departments varies. While no department in an stage is rated at % of availabilit, some stages have greater availabilit than others. Within the profiling offenders stage the availabilit index ranges from 8% to 3% (table 6.2). Seven departments have full-availabilit ratings above 7% and 22 departments are at less than 5% of full availabilit. The committing offenders stage ranges from 92% (Iowa) to 6% (Alaska) of full availabilit, with 2 departments rating above 7%. One half of the departments are at 6% or more of full availabilit. Onl departments rate less than 5% of availabilit. In the managing offenders stage, there are ten departments rated at above 7% of full availabilit; while 2 operate at 5% of full availabilit. The full-availabilit ratings for managing offenders data range from 94% (Missouri) to % (Alaska). Twelve departments in the supervising offenders stage do not maintain in the information sstems data about released offenders, and 4 do not maintain data about new crimes committed b offenders under supervision (including the victims of these crimes). For the 4 departments that do collect data about either or both of these areas, the full-availabilit ratings for this stage range from 93% (Arizona) to 7% (District of Columbia). Onl two departments receive a rating of 9% or more of full availabilit. Less than a third have full-availabilit ratings of more than 5%. Not onl does the availabilit of data among stages var, but the number of data elements maintained in high-availabilit form also differs. In the profiling offenders stage, no department has the capabilit to provide all 29 data elements in a high-availabilit form (Appendix G). Most departments maintain some data in electronic form. Thirteen States and the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) have the capacit to provide all data elements on demographic characteristics in a high- or medium-availabilit form (not shown in a table). Most departments maintain ver few of the elements on socio-economic status of offenders in electronic form. Two departments (Georgia and the BOP) maintain all five data elements about famil relationships in electronic form. Most of the departments with relativel high-availabilit ratings in the committing offenders stage maintain a large number of data elements in high-availabilit form (Appendix G). However, some of these departments also maintain man data elements in a medium-availabilit form. For example, Ohio and Tennessee rate above 65% of full-availabilit, and each maintains a relativel large number of data elements in medium availabilit. Chapter 6 66 Reporting capabilities

9 Table 6.. Availabilit ratings for all offender-based data elements Department Florida Tennessee Texas Alabama Utah South Carolina Indiana South Dakota Montana Illinois Ohio Oklahoma Kentuck New York Massachusetts Louisiana Wisconsin Oregon Mississippi Michigan Washington Arkansas North Dakota Virginia California Kansas Woming Delaware Vermont Minnesota Nebraska Idaho New Mexico District of Columbia Alaska Data about released offenders are outside the scope of the information sstem Federal Bureau of Prisons 7% 3 72 New Jerse Georgia Maine Pennslvania New Hampshire Rhode Island Nevada Marland Connecticut West Virginia Hawaii Percent of full availabilit Data about released offenders are within the scope of the information sstem Arizona 85% Colorado Missouri Iowa North Carolina Number of data elements In electronic format for More than 75% of offenders Less than 75% of offenders In paper format Not collected Missing Unknown 2 7 Chapter 6 67 Reporting capabilities

10 Table 6.2. Percent of full availabilit for each stage of corrections processing Department Colorado Delaware District of Columbia Florida Idaho Illinois Indiana Iowa Kansas Kentuck Louisiana Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Mississippi Missouri Montana Nebraska New Mexico New York North Carolina North Dakota Ohio Oklahoma Oregon South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee Texas Utah Vermont Virginia Washington Wisconsin Woming Data about released offenders are outside the scope of the information sstem Federal Bureau of Prisons Connecticut Georgia Hawaii Maine Marland Nevada New Hampshire New Jerse Pennslvania Rhode Island West Virginia Profiling offenders % Stage of corrections processing Committing Managing offenders offenders Data about released offenders are within the scope of the information sstem Alabama 7% 7% 8% Alaska 3 6 Arizona Arkansas California % % Supervising offenders 63% Not applicable Not applicable Not applicable Not applicable Not applicable Not applicable Not applicable Not applicable Not applicable Not applicable Not applicable Not applicable Chapter 6 68 Reporting capabilities

11 In general, departments maintain conviction, sentencing, and commitment data with high availabilit. In the area of sentencing information, departments generall have much higher capacities to produce all elements in electronic format. Nine departments (Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, North Carolina, Washington, Oregon, and South Carolina) maintain all 3 data elements electronicall on sentencing information, and 26 departments have all three data elements on tpe of commitment in high-availabilit form (not shown in a table). No department maintains in high-availabilit form all of the 4 data elements about the criminal incident. In the managing offenders stage, seventeen departments maintain a third or more of the data elements in paper, or low-availabilit form (Appendix G). In general, these data describe program participation and outcomes, drug testing, medical treatment, and misconduct and infractions. Data elements that measure the form of release, good time and other adjustments to sentencing, post-commitment movements and offender registr are maintained in highavailabilit form. Data about post-commitment transfers, and methods of release from prison are maintained b all 52 departments, and a majorit of departments have a high availabilit for data about movements, good-time adjustments, and victim notification requirements. No department in the supervising offenders stage maintains all the data elements in high-availabilit form (Appendix G). Man of the departments either do not collect sizable numbers of these data elements, or maintain data in low-availabilit form. For example, the District of Columbia does not collect 42 out of 45 data elements; Woming maintains 43 out of 45 data elements in paper form. The data with the highest availabilit are those that describe offenders behavior on release and the response b corrections to violations of conditions of supervision. Few departments maintain high-availabilit data about victims of crimes committed b released offenders. Departments are not rated on a full-availabilit measure for facilit-based data elements such as program management, medical services, staffing, and facilit costs. Rather, their abilit to maintain these data elements electronicall is distinguished from their abilit to maintain them on paper. Fourteen departments maintain more than half of the 5 facilit-based data elements electronicall (Appendix G). But, 26 other departments did not have at least of the data elements. Man departments report that the do not maintain data electronicall on program management, medical services and staffing, and costs of facilities. Chapter 6 69 Reporting capabilities

12 Capacities to link and share data To answer man statistical queries, departments need to link data from several databases or files, or to databases maintained b other sources. For questions related to offenders histories, for example, departments need to link current records with the records of past behaviors. This ma involve extracting archived records from tapes or other media and linking them to the existing casemanagement database. For questions about offenders behaviors when the are outside the jurisdiction of correctional institutions such as when the are released into the communit departments ma have to link their records with those in an information sstem outside corrections, such as that maintained b a parole agenc. This requires corrections departments to link parole records (which man do not record) to those in their database, and process the combined information to produce the desired statistic. Respondents expressed mixed views about the need to link data across jurisdictions. Some maintain that information on inmate movements after release (such as the police arrest data) is the onl area of interest for sharing information across jurisdictions. Others either see no need to share information across jurisdictions, or think the task is virtuall impossible without a reall thorough understanding of the definitions and content of the information. Still others are more expansive in their views about the need to share information with departments in other States and the need to conduct comparisons across States. We get tons and tons of questions from other States about the number of offenders who have some characteristic, and having data from those States would facilitate comparisons is an example of this perspective. The tpes of linkages most frequentl cited were those to their counterparts in other corrections departments. While one official noted that electronic linkages to share data would be valuable, he stressed that direct connections with the human resources of information sstems were most crucial for him. He would like to have and telephone contacts with other information sstems officials so that he could ask simple but ver important questions about creating statistical information. Having contacts in other departments to discuss questions such as: What do ou do? or How do ou create that measure? or What data are in that other data base? or Who is the best person to talk with in our sstem? are extremel valuable in his view and the view of some other respondents. Corrections departments link databases in a variet of was. The most advanced tpes of linkages occur when different agencies share data sstems. Some departments are decentralized, but have some form of communication sstem to link sstems across facilities. These links are generall through advanced communications sstems such as LANs or WANs. But in some cases the connections among facilities involve sharing the most recent updates on Chapter 6 7 Reporting capabilities

13 diskettes or b fax. In few departments, databases are linked b giving users from other departments quer-onl access. The primar links in the departments information sstems are for users at workstations in the sstem (correctional officers, counselors, and personnel in the business offices). These officials are given routine access to the database tracking offenders. A considerable number of departments (23) have no links to other agencies outside of the corrections sstem (secondar links). But a majorit (28) have connections to at least some parts of other agencies database, tpicall on a quer onl basis (not shown in a table). For example, beginning in 993, the New Jerse Department of Law and Public Safet, together with the Office of Telecommunications and Information Sstems (OTIS), the Administrative Office of Courts (AOC), and the Department of Corrections (DOC) implemented a plan to improve overall offender tracking whereb each could access the other s independent sstems and routinel update selected parts of records. Most links to agencies, however, are not through electronic means but through hard cop reports or extracts of tapes. The importance of working toward a goal of integrating data from all criminal justice agencies including corrections, probation and parole offices, the courts, and the police into one comprehensive information sstem for users in all these agencies was stressed b man corrections information officials. Officials also made man other recommendations for improving corrections information sstems capacities to respond to statistical queries. These include: creating common definitions, unique identifiers, and other standard formats for linking records across agencies; converting sstems currentl on mainframe (especiall state-wide sstems) into client-server, stand-alone sstems; transforming departmental sstems into more tightl-centralized operations; and integrating all in-facilit computer functions using one server or platform. Respondents stressed that existing sstems have a good histor of service. But the also think information sstems need to be much more flexible if the are to respond adequatel and efficientl to the volume of requests for data and information. Man asserted that corrections information sstems are in overall need of improvements, and better linkages, to meet the challenges of corrections change and to keep pace with technological change. Internal capacities to extract and link archival records The number of times that groups of offenders behaved in certain was is often an important focus of statistical questions. For example, questions about the number of infractions committed b offenders having certain characteristics ma 2 New Jerse Department of Corrections. Computerized law enforcement sstems in the Department of Corrections. (Trenton, NJ: Department of Corrections, Office of Polic and Planning, 994). Chapter 6 7 Reporting capabilities

14 involve extracting historical records and linking them to the current casemanagement records. What is the average number of disciplinar infractions committed during the first ear of imprisonment for offenders who entered during 99 and staed at least one ear, and how does that compare to the same statistic for offenders who entered during 995, after a new reform was implemented? is a concrete example. Information sstems ma be structured so that individual records of disciplinar actions are stored separatel from the records related to current information. Before the averages can be computed to answer this question, the information about past disciplinar infractions for offenders who had more than one infraction needs to be extracted from the historical record and linked to the current records. A large number of important corrections events have relevant histories. Several of them include offenders commitments into correction facilities, movements within a jurisdiction or transfers between jurisdictions, behaviors constituting misconduct or infractions, and behaviors on release in the communit. Behaviors of offenders on release in the communit are particularl important for impacts of corrections polic on public safet. Departments var in their capacities to store, retrieve, and link data about these events. Man keep all information about these repeatable events on-line for offenders currentl under correctional authorit. Others also store these data and have the capabilit to retrieve and link this information electronicall. In general for information about prison commitments, behavior in prison, and prison releases most departments either store on-line histories of these repeatable events or have the capacit to link archived records of these events. Fort-six departments maintain an on-line histor of an offender s commitments into prison. Thirt-one archive commitment histories, and of these, 28 departments have the capabilit to retrieve and link electronicall the archived records (table 6.3). With respect to information about an offender s post-commitment movements, almost all departments (49) maintain this information on-line, while about half of these also archive this information, and 22 of this group of 26 have the capacit to retrieve and link the archived data electronicall. In other categories of repeatable events, man departments either store the information on-line or have the capacit to link archived records. All departments maintain records of previousl released offenders, with the majorit (44) keeping these data permanentl available on-line. On data about behavior on release, 4 departments maintain data elements on the reasons for termination of supervision, and 38 departments obtain information about the new crimes committed b offenders who were released in the communit. Of these 38, most (28) obtain this information about new crimes onl after the offender returned to prison. Chapter 6 72 Reporting capabilities

15 Table 6.3. Capacit of departments information sstems to retrieve and link historical data Number of departments Individual offender's record of commitments to prison Maintain records of an offender's commitment histor on-line Archive records of an offender's commitment histor Capabilit to retrieve electronicall archived records Individual offender's post-commitment movement histor Maintain records of movements on-line Archive records of movements Capabilit to retrieve and link electronicall archived records Individual offender's record of behavior in custod Maintain records of an offender's misconduct/infraction histor on-line Archive records of misconduct/infractions Capabilit to retrieve and link electronicall archived records Individual offender's record of release from custod Maintain records of a previousl released offender These records are permanentl available on-line Archive records of a previousl released offender Capabilit to retrieve archived records Capabilit to link electronicall archived records Individual offender's record of behavior on release Maintain records of an offender's behavior after release from prison Maintain records for all offenders released into the communit Maintain records for an offender returned to prison for parole violations Individual offender's record of new crimes committed on release Collect data on crimes committed b an offender under supervision Data are collected upon offender's: Arrest Conviction Return to prison Other The capacit of corrections information sstems to store, retrieve, and link data on the supervising offenders stage ma be related to the organization of corrections in particular states. Of the 2 departments that do not record information about crimes of offenders on release in the communit, man are prison onl sstems. 3 Other departments ma be integrated corrections sstems that utilized an information sstem other than the corrections information sstem to record information about offenders on release in the communit. For example, in the State of Marland, corrections is a division within the Department of Public Safet and Correctional Services. The corrections division maintains data elements on offenders in Marland s prisons, while the Division of Parole and Probation maintains data elements on offenders released into the communit. 3 Vital Statistics, American Correctional Association, 994. Chapter 6 73 Reporting capabilities

16 Capacities to provide statistical information In general, the overall abilit of a corrections department to provide statistical information depends upon the capabilities of each of several components of its information sstem. These capabilities are organized into five categories: Legislative and institutional legal restrictions on access or use of data legislative reforms that affect operation of the information sstem institutional requirements Hardware, meaning the computer sstem that maintains software and data storage capacit capacit to process data abilit to access historical data reliabilit (amount of downtime) Software, meaning programs that operate on the data (whether these were developed from standard programming languages, purchased off the shelf, or specific routines designed for specific tasks) capabilit of existing software capabilit of existing quer language abilit to integrate data from separate files abilit to integrate data from separate databases abilit to structure data files Staffing, from data entr to management staff number of current programming staff lack of in-house programming staff experience level of programming staff abilit to provide adequate training for staff availabilit of funding to upgrade sstems Data, including collection of data elements and the data stored on each completeness of coverage for each data element accurac of data for each element timeliness of data. 4 Problems that arise in an one of these areas can affect the capabilities of information sstems to provide statistical information. Conversel, strengths in one component of an information sstem ma be used to overcome deficiencies in another. 4 A cop of the questionnaire is provided in Appendix B. Chapter 6 74 Reporting capabilities

17 The Obstacles surve asked departments to rate each component on a scale ranging from (not at all) to 5 (critical problem). The most severel rated obstacle to providing statistical information is the number of analsis and programming staff (table 6.4). Across the 52 reporting departments, it receives a mean score of 3.9 (on a scale of to 5) and the least variation around its mean. Funding for sstems upgrades, modifications, or staffing are the second most severe barrier. Departments tending to experience this obstacle in a relativel severe manner, as reflected in a mean ranking of 3.8 and relativel little variation around the mean. Other obstacles that rank as relativel severe problems b the departments include: lack of in-house programming staff, inabilit to provide adequate training for staff, inabilit to integrate data from separate databases, and the low experience level of programming and analsis staffing. Two additional obstacles the accurac of the data and integrating data from separate data files present somewhat of a barrier. Another eight obstacles present less severe barriers. These items receive mean ratings of between 2.5 and 2.9 and include: the data completeness, legislative reforms, the structure of data files, capabilit of the quer language, data timeliness, statistical software capabilities, abilit to access historical data, and institutional sstem requirements, and there was greater variabilit around the means. Finall, four legal restrictions on data, capacit to process data, storage capacit, and sstem downtime present relativel minor barriers to departments, as reflected in their average rankings of 2.4 or less. The grouping of individual items into the five major obstacle categories is shown in table 6.5 with the mean categor score and severit ranking of each. The group averages range from 3.6 for staffing-related, the most serious group of obstacles, to 2.2 for hardware-related obstacles, the least serious set of obstacles. Software and data problems each average ratings of 2.9. Institutional arrangements legislative reforms, requirements to use specific hardware, and legal restrictions of the use of data are rated at 2.6, on average. Staffing related issues present severe obstacles, as the 3.6 average score for these obstacles indicates. The individual items within the staffing group indicate that the number of staff (too few), abilit to provide for their adequate training, and availabilit of funding for new staff all approach ver severe levels for the departments. Software problems, such as the capacit of quer languages or of statistical software, and data problems, such as the timeliness, completeness, and accurac of data elements, also present relativel severe levels of barrier. Chapter 6 75 Reporting capabilities

18 Table 6.4. Obstacles to providing statistical information: Individual item scores Obstacle Number of analsis/programming staff Funding for sstem upgrades, modifications, or staffing requirements Lack of in-house programming staff Providing adequate training for staff Integrating data from separate databases Experience level of analsis/programming staff Accurac of data Integrating data from separate files Completeness of data Legislative reforms/changes Data file structure Capabilit of the quer language utilit Timeliness of data Capabilit of statistical software package(s) Abilit to access historical data Institutional sstem requirements Legal restrictions on access or use of data Capacit to process data Storage capacit Sstem downtime Mean Standard deviation Coefficient of variation Note: One department returned a surve for each of its two information sstems, and one department did not return the surve. Staffing, software, and data are interrelated. Having access to sophisticated database software, quer languages, and statistical packages is not enough if a department lacks staff trained in the use of these technologies. Staff that are knowledgeable in the use of these software tools but lacking access to them cannot use their skills to produce statistical information. And having sophisticated software and data entr procedures is not enough if staff are not adequatel trained in data collection, data entr, and other data preparation tasks. The reported deficiencies in the number of staff, lack of funding for sstem upgrades, modifications (software problems), and staffing skills combine to suggest that the primar obstacle to overcome is lack of resources. Additional resources will allow departments to overcome these deficiencies with staffing shortages, training deficiencies, and sstem inadequacies as the see fit with maximum impact on their overall capacities to provide statistical information. Chapter 6 76 Reporting capabilities

19 Table 6.5. Obstacles to providing statistical information: Mean scores for each categor of obstacles Obstacle categor and items Mean obstacle categor score Categor ranking b severit Legislative and institutional Legislative reforms/changes Institutional sstem requirements Legal restrictions on access or use of data Hardware Abilit to access historical data Capacit to process data Storage capacit Sstem downtime Software Integrating data from separate databases Integrating data from separate files Data file structure Capabilit of the quer language utilit Capabilit of statistical software package(s) Staffing Number of analsis/programming staff Funding for sstem upgrades, modifications, or staffing requirements Lack of in-house programming staff Providing adequate training for staff Experience level of analsis/programming staff Data Accurac of data Completeness of data Timeliness of data Note: One department returned a surve for each of its two information sstems, and one department did not return the surve. Varing obstacles among departments Departments var in the severit of the obstacles the confront (tables 6.6 and 6.7). Individual staffing obstacles rate an average of 5, the critical level, b 8 departments. An additional 2 departments rate staffing obstacles between 4 and 5 on average, indicating a ver severe obstacle. Onl 6 departments rate staffing obstacles at 2 or less on average. Software problems average slightl lower severit than staffing obstacles. Onl two departments rate the 5 software obstacles at the critical level, and 2 departments rate them as ver severe. An additional 2 departments rate them as a moderate obstacle. Chapter 6 77 Reporting capabilities

20 Four departments rate the 3 data obstacles at a critical level, on average, and an additional 8 departments rate them as ver severe. Eighteen departments rate the severit of data obstacles as being ver little to none. Legislative and institutional obstacles do not provide major barriers but the can not be ignored either. No department rates these problems as critical, but five departments rate legislative and institutional obstacles as ver severe and 25 rate them as a moderate obstacle. No department rates hardware problems at the critical level, and one has ver severe hardware problems. Twent-six of the responding departments rate hardware obstacles as having ver little severit. Staffing, software, and data problems tend to go together. 5 For the 46 departments that rate staffing obstacles an average of 3 or higher, most also rated software and data problems at average severit levels above 2 (table 6.6). Of the same 46 departments, onl 6 rate either software or data problems at an average of 2 or lower. There are exceptions. In Florida and North Carolina, for example, staffing obstacles are reported to be more severe (averaging 3.6 and 3, respectivel) than software, data, or hardware (2 or less on average). North Carolina recentl completed a major redesign of its correctional information sstem to improve its capabilities. One of the models North Carolina used to redesign its sstem was the information sstem developed b the State of Florida. Both departments indicate that while staffing problems tend to be accompanied b software and data problems, information sstems with the best designed software, good data, and advanced hardware can still confront major barriers in providing statistical information. 5 The clustering of obstacles within groups of departments was addressed in more detail in a preliminar analsis based on factor and cluster analses. The results from these analses confirm the observations here that staffing, software, and data problems tend to cluster together, and that different groups of departments experienced different degrees of each cluster of obstacles. Chapter 6 78 Reporting capabilities

21 Table 6.6. Mean categor scores for each department Department Staffing Software Hardware Data Institutional/ legislative Federal Bureau of Prisons Alabama Alaska Arizona Arkansas California Colorado Connecticut Delaware District of Columbia Florida Georgia Hawaii Idaho Illinois Indiana Iowa Kansas Kentuck Maine Marland Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Mississippi Missouri Montana Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire New Jerse CMIS New Jerse OBCIS New Mexico New York North Carolina North Dakota Ohio Oklahoma Oregon Pennslvania Rhode Island South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee Texas Utah Vermont Virginia Washington West Virginia Wisconsin Woming Note: Louisiana did not return the surve. Chapter 6 79 Reporting capabilities

22 Table 6.7. Severit of problems in departments information sstems Component Staffing Data Software Legislative and institutional Hardware Number of departments* with problems described as-- Critical Ver severe Moderate Ver little None *One department returned a surve for each of its two information sstems, and one department did not return the surve. Summar Officials in corrections information departments report that the routinel respond to requests for raw data and summar information on offenders. The also receive requests that require analsis and processing of data elements into specified formats to meet external definitions and standards. Departments use a variet of media to submit data, including hard cop, tape, diskettes, or file transfer protocols. In addition to corrections staff users, requesters of corrections data include Federal agencies, a wide range of State and local agencies, researchers, and private companies. High-availabilit data varies widel among the departments and all of the four stages of corrections processing. No department has all the data elements in high-availabilit form, nor does an department have all of the elements that correspond to each stage of corrections processing. The stages related to committing offenders and managing offenders have the most departments with relativel high data availabilit index scores. Twelve departments rate at 7% or above for all 72 data elements in the committing offenders stage, and departments in the managing offenders stage rate above 7%. The supervising offenders stage has nine departments that collect data about released offenders rated at above 7%, and seven departments in the profiling offenders stage scored higher than 7% on the index. The information most available in high-availabilit form are data that describe offenders demographic characteristics, conviction offenses, sentences imposed, current commitment, expected time to be served, risk assessment, classification and confinement decisions, post-commitment movements, good time and other sentence adjustments, releases from custod, reasons for terminating supervision, and the criminal justice response to supervision violations. In general, the information with the lowest level of high-availabilit are data describing offenders socio-economic status, famil characteristics, the criminal Chapter 6 8 Reporting capabilities

23 incident, victim information, medical care, and emploment and residence information about released offenders. To answer statistical queries, departments frequentl need to construct links among internal databases or between them and databases of other agencies. Commonl mentioned obstacles in creating links to other data sstems include: existence of several platforms of different ages and data formats, which makes interfaces between them complex; lack of common definitions, unique identifiers, and other standard formats for linking records across agencies; and outdated sstems that do not respond readil or flexibl to queries for information. Corrections staff also frequentl noted the importance of working toward a goal of integrating all criminal justice agencies into one comprehensive information sstem that would be shared b all users. A ke issue for corrections information sstems is the extent to which departments can record data on event histories. For example, can an information sstem record the number of times an offender commits an infraction, or the number of times an offender enters and exits prison during a single prison term? Data on such repeatable events ma be required information for measuring corrections sstem performance. Departments generall reported that their highest capacities for storing, retrieving, and linking archived data on repeatable events for data elements related to commitments into prison, post-commitment movements, and releases from prison during a term. Departments report that the do indeed confront several obstacles in producing statistical information. These range from the need to reformat their data to compl with standards and formats of the requester, through hardware limitations that restrict the capabilities for executing queries, and software limitations that require departments to create customized programs to generate reports and data, to shortages of experienced staff that prevent timel resolution of data requests. Responses to the Obstacles surve confirm that the most serious obstacles encountered b corrections departments in producing statistical information are staffing-related obstacles including the number of analsis and programming staff, their experience, and the resources to further train them. Staffing-related obstacles are closel related in severit to software applications and data constraints. Fort-six departments rated staffing obstacles as providing a serious barrier to their providing statistical information. All but 6 of these also rated either software or data as serious constraints. Relativel few departments rate either hardware or legislative and legal factors as serious barriers to producing statistical information. Chapter 6 8 Reporting capabilities

24 Chapter 6 82 Reporting capabilities

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