courts in order to be successful. Earlier this year, Missouri announced plans to implement a statewide automated court system. The project will allow the state's circuit courts, appellate courts, Supreme Court and clerks to share and easily access information. According to the National Center for State Courts, nearly 35 states maintain some degree of a unified court system.
Integrated justice will also include heightened communication between justice agencies and the private/public legal community. Prince George's County, Md., is leading the way with its JusticeLINK solution, which enables electronic filing and public access to schedules and court decisions (Government Technology, July 1995). Among other capabilities, JusticeLINK permits attorneys to electronically file motions, access court dockets and opinions, and communicate with court clerks and opposing counsel.
INTEGRATED PUBLIC SAFETY & JUSTICE
Once integrated public safety and integrated justice environments are in place, the final progression will be a link between these two systems. This step will no doubt be the most difficult because it will be the phase which integrates different types of agencies within the public safety and criminal justice environments.
Some state and local governments already beginning to move in this direction include the following:
Connecticut is developing a statewide strategy for a Criminal Justice Information System which will integrate all members of the public safety and criminal justice community, from law enforcement to courts. Recognizing the broad scope of this project and business process ramifications, the state is launching the program with careful analysis and a detailed plan.
North Carolina evaluated how the state's public safety and criminal justice agencies could work more efficiently, and is now considering the prospect of (re)centralizing all related agencies under a comprehensive umbrella agency. While centralizing should not necessarily be equated with integration, the move is indicative of the fact that the different but related agencies need to work in concert -- not competition -- with one another.
The barriers surrounding an integrated public safety and criminal justice environment may seem insurmountable, but there are steps that can be taken today which will help make this environment possible in the future. However, there are no simple answers, and no singular "correct" path to follow. Learning from the early adopters will hopefully lessen the learning curve for others, and the following are at least some initial, if fundamental aspects to consider.
Secure the buy-in of all involved parties, and then some. Recruit the governor's (and/or mayor's and county commissioner's) support. The integrated public safety and criminal justice environment is an enterprisewide endeavor, and a broad base of support is critical to its success.
Design facilities from a functional standpoint, considering the steps a prisoner must follow (as with the project recently completed by Maryland's Correctional Services Department). This almost seems rudimentary, yet it is far easier said than done.
Consider the diverse information needs of all involved agencies when designing both the business processes and information systems which will support this new paradigm. Seeking the input of others will also help enlist their support.
From a technical standpoint, track individuals on a case management system, a type of "living file." A single identification code can be used throughout the public safety and criminal justice process, with each agency adding vital data at respective points.
For more information, contact Meghan Cotter at G2 Research 415/964-2400.