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Enhancing Prison Classification Systems: The Emerging Role of Management Information Systems

NCJ Number
Tim Brennan, Ph.D.; David Wells; Jack Alexander, Ph.D.
Date Published
July 2004
280 pages
Based on a literature review and case studies of seven State prison systems that had developed innovations in classification, management information systems, and information technology, this report examines how information technology (IT) and computational developments can support prison classification decisionmaking.
Four major conclusions emerged from this study. First, criminal justice databases are gradually becoming more integrated, which should positively impact offender classification by increasing the retrieval speed for data, as well as its comprehensiveness and integrity. Second, prison classification is trending toward more comprehensive systems, broader information, and multiple objectives. This will increase demands on IT for comprehensive data. Third, several software technologies that structure knowledge are emerging. This has the potential to significantly improve prison classification systems. Higher quality data along with more powerful classification algorithms may produce a substantial increase in classification productivity. This report mentions several data mining and artificial intelligence techniques that may assist in achieving this increased productivity. Fourth, the management of change and innovation poses a challenge. This report outlines lessons learned about implementation and change management, particularly regarding IT and prison classification systems. Detailed recommendations in the chapters reflect several main goals that are critical to the rapid development of correctional classification procedures. One goal is to upgrade the quality, coverage, and salience of classification data. A second goal is to upgrade the computational methods used to build classification systems. A third goals is to upgrade the statistical and graphics reporting software for correctional managers, which will enable them to analyze their databases and "mine" them for more effective management reports that focus on their information needs. Strategies used in developing this report were an examination of the relevant professional literature and case studies of seven State prison systems for intensive onsite study. Extensive chapter exhibits, 97 references, and appended summaries of the prison classification systems of the seven States