Seven years ago, the life situation of The Bexar County Jail inmates, as well as the staff and jail guards, was unimaginable and a misery. According to statistics, the county jail was overloaded by nearly 200 prisoners, which brought about interconnected scandals and issues, and shame for the county jail. Cathy Maras, the county CIO shared to the public that during those dark days, they were struggling to cope up, and even opting to either build a new tower for inmates or speed up the trial process to lessen the headcount under their custody.
She further shared that were opting to get a new building, but didn’t want to spend around $350M for it, as they prefer spending the county funds for building libraries and road constructions instead, as these facilities are one of their priorities as well.
Fortunately, better days have come for Bexar County Jail, much more convenient than before. The county jail presently handles 3,450 inmates out of the 4,563 jail capacity. The numbers have dropped by more than 20% since 2009, thanks to the adopted data analytic system that the county is now using.
Bexar County Jail is now using several dashboards that are useful to make all processes fast, effective and efficient. Some of the systems used are detailed below.
· Court Case Loads Dashboard
· Jail Court Candidates Dashboard
· District court Pen Pack Dashboard
· Sheriff’s Office Pen Pack Dashboard
· Out of County/State Dashboard
(systems used source was Texas Digital Summit titled Solving Real-World Problems Through Data Analytics – June 2016)
Compared to the old system, when one wanted to check what is the case that is currently being tried for a certain inmate, the clerk has to spend painful hours rummaging through the files to find out the details connected to the inmate, because there was no such systematic procedure being handled at that time.
Today, court staff uses the up to date dashboards via Microsoft SQL servers which help them identify the current status of each inmate and customize any dashboard depending on their specific need. A clerk can check who among the inmates are permitted to undergo jail courts, who are those that are ready for state transfers, check who among under their custody are facing out of county/state warrants, etc. It is an efficient, time-saving way to work and focuses on the specific need at a specific time.
The remarkable improvement of the process in The Bexar County Jail was brought about by the Information Technology county team, with the help of the executive director of Pretrial Services, Mike Lozito to come up with an intelligent and efficient way to fulfill the justice process through analytic and systematic dashboards. They have carefully studied the justice system procedure from the district attorney’s office, to the court, down to the county jail, along with the other key offices that are involved in the process, then created systems to connect all of these.
Aside from the lower headcount of inmates today, another success is the reduction of expenditures of the county jail, which means a better savings fund for the county. As the county jail, CIO Maras stated, “Our goal isn’t to warehouse people, but to get them help as quickly as we can — and follow the law.”
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