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IJIS Pilot Implementations Help Overcome PREA Information Sharing Challenges

Monday, July 11, 2016   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Martha Hill
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IJIS Pilot Implementations Help Overcome PREA Information Sharing Challenges

Actions will guide the development of the National PREA Data Standard


Ashburn, Va, 21 July 2016. The IJIS Institutea nonprofit organization that focuses on mission-critical information sharing for justice, public safety, and homeland security – has successfully completed three pilot implementations (Iowa, Arkansas, and New Mexico) of a new national, consensus-based data standard for use in corrections offender management and jail management systems to support Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) requirements and processes. This new data standard provides corrections executives and staff with enhanced capabilities in capturing PREA-related data to gain better understanding of the incidents and support the PREA-related operational processes. The PREA data standard can be used with an agency’s existing technology infrastructure to allow individual agencies the ability to overcome the challenges of achieving compliance and reporting requirements associated with the national PREA requirements.  

Development of the PREA Data Standard was driven by the practitioners from the criminal justice community that were part of the PREA Working Group (PWG). The IJIS Institute’s PWG members included representatives from the American Correctional Association (ACA), the American Jail Association (AJA), the American Probation and Parole Association (APPA), the Corrections Technology Association (CTA), the Council of State Governments Justice Center, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), and the National Institute of Corrections (NIC). The PWG is also supported by practitioner advisors (directors, commissioners, PREA coordinators) from six state corrections agencies and other PREA experts who helped evaluate PWG work products. IJIS Institute members representing industry on the PWG were Marquis Software and Open Networks.

Once the PREA Data Standard was created, the IJIS Institute received interest from seven states and selected three pilot states (Iowa, Arkansas, and New Mexico) in consultation with Bureau of Justice Assistance to complete individual pilot implementations of the standard and identify the outcomes and lessons learned.

The Iowa Department of Corrections (IDOC) participated in the IJIS Institute’s PREA Data Standard Pilot Implementation with the goal of enhancing an existing database to maximize efficiency. The outcome was overwhelmingly positive and has enabled IDOC staff to generate a diverse array of reports and to collect pertinent information which will directly populate into the Federal year-end progress report, a requirement of the PREA legislation. Robin Bagby, the assistant deputy director of IDOC, noted that, “Prior to the IJIS collaboration we were manually creating the report and information gathering was labor intensive at best. Upon completion, we were able to streamline our existing data base, enhance communication and increase the categories of data input. The modifications enabled us to see the PREA dynamics more clearly from the beginning to completion as well as understand how the process directly reflects our PREA policies.  It is our fond hope that this project will continue to move forward on a national level in order to provide a forum to share knowledge and resources between all departments of corrections agencies nationwide.”

The Arkansas Department of Corrections (ADC) entered the PREA Data Standard Pilot Implementation with similar goals. They wanted to use the technology to broaden the agency-wide view of PREA related assessments, assignments, transfers and incidents, provide real-time alert notifications to staff to employ response services to victims and employ classification actions to appropriately house and separate victim and predator, increase accountability measures for inmates with sexually aggressive behaviors, and, across all this, maximize the use of technology to decrease the burdens on limited staff resources.

Following a successful pilot implementation, Wendy Kelley, Director of ADC, stated that, “Everything is automated now; the gains realized from the implementation is saving time and resources and provides more effective and timely information for appropriate and timely responses. Our staff can electronically access, track, report, and address PREA occurrences and details and we now have electronic email notification automatically generated for key stakeholders and the system automatically populates Federal reporting forms.”

Also intent on improving PREA data collection and reporting processes, the New Mexico Department of Corrections (NMDC) was the third pilot implementation site. Through the process of incorporating the data elements into NMCD’s Offender Management System as well as with the local implementation process, they also experienced improvements in automating data collection and PREA reporting. Jerry Brinegar, the deputy chief information officer for NMCD, stated that the successful implementation process, “in a state system, where staff and inmates travel often through eleven prisons, having all the data available through one system has saved much needed time and resources.  Staff, with their appropriate assigned level of viewing access, are able to review data in one system, remotely.” He went on to note that, “Recording all staff, contractors, outside agencies, inmates and any persons involved has proven to be invaluable.  When assault incidents occur, many agencies and professionals are involved in the process.  By logging and tracking all involved parties and having that information readily available, staff can easily remain updated and contact those that they need to during what sometimes is a very long process that may include criminal charges, prosecution and continued advocacy.” 

The implementation of the PREA Data Standard provided improvements in business functionality and, as such, all three implementation site agencies expressed a desire and willingness to continue moving forward with the application of the PREA Data Standard in their agencies and felt strongly that there is tremendous benefit available through a wider implementation across the country, making the PREA Data Standard a truly national standard. The IJIS Institute also continues to receive interest from large Jails and other correctional agencies to implement the developed PREA Data standard.

The development and implementation of this PREA Data Standard was funded through a grant from the Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance. The PREA Data Standard uses the Global Standards Package and leverages the Global Privacy Technology Framework to address concerns inherent to PREA victimization. For more information on the PREA Data Standard, visit http://www.ijis.org/?page=Corrections.

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