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Integration of Criminal Justice Systems: Plenty of Pains, But Everyone Gains

NCJ Number
Compiler Volume: 19 Issue: 3,4 Dated: Winter/Spring 2000 Pages: 4-8
Steve Prisoc
Date Published
5 pages
After assessing the current status of information processing in the criminal justice system, this paper presents the case for constructing integrated criminal justice information systems and identifies the factors that contribute to the success and failure of integration projects.
The current state of affairs in criminal justice information systems has its roots in the late 1970's and early 1980's, when case-tracking systems first became widely available. The lack of standards for the development of these systems resulted in a group of disparate systems that served the immediate purpose but could not interact, thus requiring human intervention whenever information needed to flow between systems. New justice information systems must be able to share information with other systems to avoid wasteful, redundant data entry. Such redundancy leads to incomplete or inaccurate information due to the inevitable errors generated by successive keying of data from one system to another. Integrated systems provide all needed information, and they structure the delivery of information in ways that enhance ideal work flows and individual worker productivity. These systems eliminate redundant data entry. The best systems present information in ways that maximize efficiency through the use of notification mechanisms, access to imaged documents, and instantaneous communication between departments. Integration projects are complex and carry the risk of failure. Project success stems from user involvement, executive management support, clear requirements, proper planning, realistic expectations, and smaller project milestones.