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Syscon Justice Systems




Reducing the Cost Without Compromising Safety


Across the globe, advanced nations struggle with a common challenge: the cost of corrections has reached a point of unsustainability. Driven by increasing rates of incarceration and persistent, high rates of reoffending, it is a problem which has gained the attention of all the actors across the justice and public safety spectrum. Legislators, the judiciary, corrections leadership, public policy experts, and others are asking a common, but urgent question: How can the cost of corrections be reduced without compromising the safety of the offender, corrections staff, and the public at large? For the corrections agency executive, effectively addressing this question will be the number one objective for the balance of this decade, and likely beyond.

A Two-Dimensional Problem The high cost of corrections – regardless of country or jurisdiction – is a result of two primary factors. High Rates of Incarceration For more than a generation, nations and local jurisdictions have adopted legislative and judicial sentencing policies that focus heavily on incarceration as the primary means of holding accountable those persons convicted of a criminal offense. Based on the belief that incarceration would teach the offender a lesson and thus reduce his or her future criminal behavior, offenders have been sentenced to jail or prison in greater numbers, for longer periods of time, for offenses that are often non-violent in nature. Although policies have been crafted separately within each country or state, and implemented at varying times, the impact has been dramatic and consistent. For example: • In England, the prison population more than doubled from 1992 to 20081, and has shown no signs of decrease since then2 • For the 25 years through 2009, prisons across Australia experienced a population increase of 98%3 • In Canada, the total cost of corrections doubled in just a five-year window from 2006 to 20114 • In the United States, where the problem is most acute, state prisons alone experienced a 173% increase in incarcerated populations over a 20-year period from 1987 to 20075 With increasing numbers of offenders being sentenced to jail or prison, and with longer, and more complex sentences being imposed, corrections agencies at every level have been facing significant over-crowding challenges, driving the need for construction of new facilities. Capital costs, combined with the operational cost of housing, feeding, clothing, transporting and supervising increased numbers of offenders have placed an unsustainable burden on public

“ Do Better, Do Less: The Report on the Commission on English Prisons Today,” The Howard League for Penal Reform, London, England, 2009. 2 “Story of the Prison Population 1993 to 2012: England and Wales,” UK Ministry of Justice, London, England January 2013. 3 “Australian Crime: Facts and Figures 2010,” Australian Institute of Criminology, Canberra, ACT, Australia, 2010. 4 “Prison Costs Soar in Last Five Years: Report,” National Post, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, July 18, 2011. 5 “1 in 100: Behind Bars in America 2008,” Pew Public Safety Performance Project, Washington, DC, USA, 2008. 1

Reducing the Cost Without Compromising Safety


budgets. This comes at a time of global economic uncertainty, and falls on governments that are struggling to find the necessary funds to support other public goods, such as education, transportation, and infrastructure reinvestment. A hidden, but very significant component of the cost increase for corrections is the reality that longer sentences for more people produce an aging prisoner base, which introduces more complex health care requirements. It has been estimated that healthcare expenditures for prisoners over age 55 are nine times greater than the cost of younger prisoners, and most jurisdictions are ill-prepared to manage either the patient needs or the associated costs.6 High Rates of Reoffending Incarcerating more offenders for longer periods was intended to deliver a tangible, long-term public safety benefit in the form of reduced crime, and thus lower rates of incarceration. But across counties, states, provinces and nations, the stark realization is the same: some twenty to thirty years on, those benefits simply have not been achieved. Instead, rates of recidivism in many nations continue to hover between 40% and 50%. In England, for example, nearly 50% of adults reoffend within the first year of their release from prison.7 For young offenders in the country, the results are even more staggering: 75% of those sentenced to youth custody commit another crime in less than twelve months from release.8 In the province of Manitoba, Canada, which currently has the country’s highest rate of incarceration9, the recidivism rate for young offenders, measured quarterly since 2002, has never dropped below 75%.10 Often those guilty of reoffending have not actually committed a new crime per se, but have committed a technical violation of the terms of their release, such as a missed appointment with a parole officer. Yet, in many instances, that technical offense results in a return to a custodial environment, with all its associated costs.

“Number of Older Inmates Grows, Stressing Prisons,” The New York Times, New York, New York, USA, January 26, 2012. “Breaking the Cycle: Effective Punishment, Rehabilitation and Sentencing of Offenders,” Policy Paper presented to Parliament by the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice by Command of Her Majesty, London, England, December 2010. 8 Ibid. 9 Mia Dauvergne, “Adult Correctional Statistics in Canada, 2010/2011,” Statistics Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada October 12, 2012. 10 Tom Brodbeck, “Reoffending Rates Are Staggering,” Winnipeg Sun, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, March 2, 2010. 6 7

Reducing the Cost Without Compromising Safety


It is this seemingly intractable combination of high rates of incarceration and persistent, high rates of reoffending that have forced elected officials, corrections experts, public policy researchers and others committed to justice and public safety to find new ways to efficiently and safely manage criminal populations. As evidenced through various surveys and reports11, there is considerable public support for change as long as there is no compromise to offender, staff, and community safety. New policy initiatives, such as those presented in Michigan12, The Netherlands13, and England and Wales14, put forward innovative thinking and approaches to the management of correctional populations. In each jurisdiction, there is an emphasis on reducing incarcerated populations, which drive so much of the escalating cost of corrections, in favor of community-based management of non-violent offenders, improved rehabilitation programs, and a more graduated response to technical violations for those who have been released. However, the impacts from a generation of public policy cannot be reversed overnight. Achieving positive outcomes will take time, collaboration, and patience.

Software Solutions Have a Role to Play Public policy, and the broad structural changes which are necessary to reduce the cost of corrections is not the domain of a software vendor. That is the clear responsibility of elected officials and corrections experts to define and implement. However, software vendors, especially those with a long-term commitment to the corrections profession, do have an obligation to deliver technological innovation to assist agencies around the world as they wrestle with the challenge of safe, intelligent cost reduction. Software vendors with a strategic understanding of the issues facing corrections, and a longterm solution roadmap, will instinctively understand where and how they fit in. First, there are two driving realities that face every agency, and neither can be favored over the other. 1. The cost of corrections has to be reduced, immediately and sustainably. 2. Solutions to reduce the cost of corrections cannot result in compromises to safety – of the offender, of correctional staff, or the general public. Second, there are multiple business levels at which comprehensive, integrated solutions can deliver value.

“ Public Opinion on Sentencing and Corrections Policy in America,” Pew Public Safety Performance Project, Washington, DC, USA, March 2012. 12 “State of Recidivism: The Revolving Door of America’s Prisons,” Pew Public Safety Performance Project, Washington, DC, USA, April 2011. 13 “DJI Master Plan 2013-2018,” Custodial Institutions Agency, Ministry of Security and Justice, The Hague, Netherlands, March 2013. 14 “Breaking the Cycle: Effective Punishment, Rehabilitation and Sentencing of Offenders,” UK Ministry of Justice, London, England, December 2010. 11

Reducing the Cost Without Compromising Safety


Corrections Operations The world is most complex at the operational level of corrections. With so many moving parts, with safety and security as paramount concerns, with myriad regulations regarding offender treatment, and tens of thousands of daily interactions between offenders and corrections staff, the need for proven, well-defined policies and procedures is essential. Moreover, the need to understand each offender in detail, to know who the offender is and the risks he poses, is of fundamental importance to the correctional officer. Critical information, such as risk to staff or other offenders, length of sentence, gang affiliations, and mental and physical health are but a few of the key data points that create the offender profile. However, at the operational level, it is not enough to simply know who the offender is. It is just as important to understand how to manage that offender – safely and efficiently. In a typical custodial environment, offenders and corrections staff engage in countless daily transactions. Some are routine, such as ordering items from the commissary, selecting meal preferences and exchanging laundry, while others are more complex and inherently riskier, such as arranging for a visit with a family member, moving to and from court proceedings, and attending classes. Even within a single facility, let alone a complex national network of jails and prisons, thousands upon thousands of transactions take place every day. Each one has a defined process, each one must be recorded in some fashion, and each one takes time. The longer each transaction takes, and the more manual its nature, the greater the cost of that transaction. The knowledge of how to conduct that transaction must be taught to every staff member. That takes time. And when staff members are reassigned or retire from service, training must be delivered to the replacement staff.

Reducing the Cost Without Compromising Safety


For years there have been offender management systems (OMS)15 in use in every type of agency – jail, prison, probation and parole – and these systems perform effectively in the capture and retrieval of offender information. However, because they are defined by the business processes they automate, often just mimicking an historical, paper-driven process, a legacy OMS does not deliver the accelerated efficiency that a cost-heavy environment requires. If every transaction between an offender and an officer has a cost, and if the number of incarcerated offenders is increasing, and finally, if the typical offender is serving a longer sentence, the cumulative cost of undertaking those transactions is extraordinary. More importantly, those transaction costs are a major contributor to the very real fiscal predicaments that every corrections agency must resolve. Software solutions for corrections must focus on reducing the time it takes to complete every transaction if sustainable operational efficiencies are to be gained. Many of the tasks in managing an offender population still involve paper processes today. Through intelligent use of software and supporting hardware, it is quite feasible to shorten the time it takes to complete the transaction, thus reducing cost and increasing efficiency, without compromising the integrity of the task or the safety of the offender and the officer. The opportunities for operational efficiency are numerous. For example, in situations of higher intake volumes, an intuitive web-based tool guides the intake officer through a very specific set of essential tasks while backlogging lower priority ones, ensuring statutory intake times are achieved. A housing unit supervisor makes use of a wireless tablet for automating counts, which provides a series of operational benefits, such as reduced time to complete the task, elimination of redundant data re-entry, and the availability of real-time information. For the community corrections officer, the use of a wireless device for scheduling meetings with a parolee or recording workplace verifications ensures greater time in the field and improved ability to manage a greater number of offenders in the community. These are but a few of the innovations that agencies can utilize to reduce transaction times, and lower costs, at the operational level. Lower costs against the tens of thousands of daily transactions in a typical custodial facility results in a better use of resources and a lowering of aggregate operational expense. Across the entire facility network within a single agency structure, the benefit can be substantial and sustainable. It’s not enough for a software solution to automate the process. Rather, it is imperative that the solution enable delivery of ever greater levels of speed and efficiency into operation, all the while maintaining safety and security.


Offender management systems are generally regarded as mission-critical applications used in the capture, management and retrieval of essential information about the offender: identification, demographic and biometric information; offenses and sentences; physical and mental health; classifications and risks; programs; visitation permissions and restrictions; property and financials; and release date.

Reducing the Cost Without Compromising Safety


Corrections Agency Management If the correctional facility is where the daily operational machinery grinds on and on, twentyfour hours a day every day of the year, it is at the level of agency management where strategic planning and the consideration of alternative approaches takes place. It is here that seasoned professionals ask long-range questions and consider changes in correctional practice to help them run a more efficient business. In their regular interactions with legislators and the funding bureaucracy, corrections agency executives are constantly pressed to defend their expenditures, explain their outcomes, and articulate their plans for improved agency management. As many executives will attest, it is one of the most stressful aspects of the job – defining how a complex agency with constrained resources can operate more efficiently without compromising safety, in a profession that is fraught with risk at virtually every turn. To meet this need, agency management requires easy access to operational data so they can analyze activities and understand where efficiencies might be gained. They need the ability to pose ‘what if’ questions against that data, such as ‘What if time credits were calculated differently for a certain class of offender? Would that reduce populations to such a level that a housing unit could be closed?’ They need information to help justify the modification of a business process, and then capture revised operational performance metrics to monitor improvement. Like their counterparts in the private sector, corrections agency managers require access to proven, flexible reporting and business intelligence tools. Unfortunately, the typical OMS in place in today’s operational environment lacks the reporting and business intelligence sophistication required. The ability to share relevant information with agency management in a timely manner is heavily constrained. With a primary focus on data inputs, legacy systems were designed with very little consideration of information outputs. Certainly with enough time and enough resources, skilled analysts can find the data, but just as time and resources are in short supply at the corrections operations level, the same can be said of the agency management level. Yet when a legislator or justice minister asks a business question of an agency executive, the expectation is that the answer is only a few hours, or perhaps days, away.

Reducing the Cost Without Compromising Safety


To enable a more comprehensive and insightful understanding of the business, corrections agency management requires a solution which fully integrates proven reporting and business intelligence capabilities directly into the OMS. They require an approach which inherently understands that the outputs are just as important as the inputs, that they are easy to access, and can be easily presented in any format, from static reports to real-time dashboards. Without business visibility at the agency management level, it is virtually impossible to drive the changes necessary to produce safe, sustainable cost reduction for corrections. Justice and Public Safety Spectrum Across the spectrum of justice and public safety agencies – whether at the county, state, provincial or national level – the focus on sustainable, safe cost reduction is ever-present. Legislative policy drives cost. Judicial interpretation of policy drives cost. Corrections agencies drive cost through their management of offenders, business processes and facilities. In the same vein, these agencies and the professionals that run them care greatly about public safety and ensuring positive outcomes for society. They are committed to reducing offender populations, and reducing reoffending without compromising safety and security. To achieve these outcomes, agencies across the spectrum recognize the benefit of sharing relevant information securely and efficiently. The ability to share specific information about certain classes of offenders, such as gang members or sex offenders, is fundamental to improved security and public safety. The ability to easily identify non-violent offenders who are suitable for early release, and reliably share that information with community corrections officers is an essential task in the more efficient management of an integrated correctional agency. In many jurisdictions around the world, such information sharing is a legal requirement, and the failure to do so can result in significant financial penalties for the delinquent agency. Historically, this has been a difficult mandate for any agency to fulfill, despite the clear benefits. Lack of easy access to system data, competing data formats, and lack of time and skilled resources have proven to be formidable obstacles. Emerging standards for data exchange and system interoperability provide the means for knocking those obstacles over. In the United States, Canada, and the European Union, the National Information Exchange Model (NIEM)16 has gained traction in numerous justice and public safety agencies to facilitate a standards-based approach to simplify information exchange. To support ever-increasing information exchange requirements, solutions providers must embrace the NIEM standard and stay current with its evolution. A mission-critical OMS application that lacks this commitment places an unnecessary and costly burden on the agencies which rely on it.

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Reducing the Cost Without Compromising Safety


A New Solution for a Complex Challenge For years, the success of offender management systems was defined by their ease of information capture and the breadth of business processes they automated. In a world in which offender populations were rapidly increasing, it made sense to focus on efficient information capture and retrieval. But that is not today’s world. Syscon Justice Systems, a leader in the design and delivery of comprehensive offender management systems for more than three decades, understands clearly how the world has changed, and that a new generation of solutions is required to meet a more complex set of corrections challenges. Introducing the Workflow™ Family of Correctional Solutions Building on a comprehensive understanding of corrections business process at all levels – jail, prisons and community corrections – in all jurisdictions – county, state, provincial and national – Syscon delivers a new, innovative offender management solution with a simple, but powerful objective: Help our agency partners to reduce the cost of corrections without compromising safety. The Workflow™ Family combines our three decades of OMS experience with a modern technology framework and flexible applications that are tailored to the specific needs of jails, prisons, and community corrections agencies. Delivered as a Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) offering, it provides every agency with an easy-to-use solution that will address correctional needs well into the next decade.

Reducing the Cost Without Compromising Safety


Flexible Applications on a Common Architecture The Workflow™ Family delivers specific functional applications – WorkflowJAIL™, WorkflowPRISON™, and WorkflowCOMMUNITY™ – for each segment of the corrections market. These applications, guided by in-house corrections experts and with input from our international client base, provide comprehensive business process automation, such as Intake and Reception, Classification, Movements, Legal Cases and Sentence Calculation, Visitation Management, Programs and Services, and Release and Discharge, to name a few. The ability to efficiently configure business processes ensures that the agency can adapt the application to meet business requirements, and move correctional staff and the offender more quickly through any given process. Each offering in the family relies upon a common service-oriented architecture, enabling efficient integration with other corrections applications, and administration of user rights, auditing, security, reporting and document management. Deliberately designed to be database agnostic, the Workflow™ Family ensures that existing technology assets can be leveraged, or even retired, if costly licensing requirements represent an opportunity for improved cost management. User-friendly and Intuitive As an application fully designed for the Web, the Workflow™ Family embraces proven standards for an efficient user experience. With an intuitive and consistent design paradigm, the application caters to a new generation of corrections professional that has never known a world without laptops, browsers and smart devices. The clean design of every interaction screen in every business process moves the user quickly through the task at hand, an essential requirement in high-volume offender environments. Designed for Business Visibility and Information Exchange The Workflow™ Family utilizes Oracle® BI Publisher to integrate best-in-class reporting and business intelligence capabilities. The solution delivers operational reporting across each business process, as well as advanced query and analysis capabilities. Agencies will benefit from an improved understanding of operational performance, as well as a far easier ability to analyze information to support long-range, strategic initiatives for cost-reduction. Built in full support of the NIEM standard, the Workflow™ Family stands at the forefront of OMS offerings in support of efficient cross-agency and cross-jurisdictional information sharing.

Reducing the Cost Without Compromising Safety


Any Device, Anytime, Anywhere Within corrections, the use of wireless devices, such as smart phones, tablets, and other handheld computers is increasing at an impressive rate. Built around Syscon’s commitment to reduce redundant, manual effort and paper-driven processes, the Workflow™ Family is designed to intelligently and securely deliver business process task flow to a wide range of wireless devices. With tasks designed to render appropriately based on the device, agencies can equip their staff with cutting edge tools which will speed up data capture, eliminate errors and the need for data re-entry, and enable corrections professionals in any setting to perform more of the job they are trained to do. Secure, Scalable and Ready for the Cloud With ever-increasing data volumes and demands for access to information, the Workflow™ Family provides the security and scalability expected of a mission-critical enterprise solution. Designed for use in environments that feature high-volume offender intakes, large numbers of simultaneous users, and high-volume data demands, the solution scales efficiently and delivers 99.99% uptime reliability. With corrections agencies around the world embracing secure, cost-effective cloud-based deployment of applications, the Workflow™ Family is built to support deployment in the cloud or in established, on-premise data centers.

A Compelling Vision from a Proven Partner The Workflow™ Family of Correctional Solutions benefits from a comprehensive understanding of corrections, and a commitment to a long-term product roadmap, 100% focused on the needs of corrections professionals. We understand through experience that Offender Management Solutions are at the very core of corrections operations. By combining our proven ability to capture and manage all aspects of offender information with an investment in innovative new tools and technologies to help reduce transaction costs and better understand business performance, Syscon delivers a new generation of OMS solution. With the legislative, operational and budgetary changes facing corrections, agency leadership understands the importance of embracing forward-thinking solutions to support intelligent and safe cost-reduction. The Workflow™ Family of Correctional Solutions provides a powerful new asset designed to support those changes. It is a solution that will enable every agency to reduce the cost of corrections without compromising safety, and contribute to improved corrections outcomes.

Reducing the Cost Without Compromising Safety


About Syscon Syscon Justice Systems helps corrections agencies to understand who they have incarcerated, and how to manage them. We are the world’s leading provider of offender management solutions. Proven over more than 30 years, the company has successfully implemented missioncritical solutions for every major level of corrections, enabling our clients to run better agencies and ensure public safety. As a trusted partner in corrections agencies around the world, Syscon combines unrivalled expertise with purpose-built solutions for critical business process. We work closely with our clients to fully understand their requirements and guide them in the most effective approach to satisfy their needs, ensuring that we deliver effective project management and quality software at every step. Syscon is proud to partner with some of the world’s most sophisticated and complex corrections agencies, such as Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, National Offender Management Service in England and Wales, Corrective Services New South Wales, and Alberta Justice and Solicitor General, Correctional Services. Our solutions meet the needs of agencies in six countries on four continents, 15 states and provinces, and 12 US counties. Over 86,000 professional corrections administrators and line staff rely on Syscon to manage more than 410,000 offenders in over 500 secure facilities. Syscon is an active member in a number of leading organizations serving the global corrections profession, including the Corrections Technology Association (board member), International Corrections and Prisons Association, IJIS Institute (technical advisory committee), and the American Corrections Association. The company is privately held.

6500 River Road 2nd Floor, Richmond, BC V6X 1X5 Canada Tel: 604 606 7650

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© 2009-2013 Syscon Justice Systems. All Rights Reserved.

Reducing the Cost without Compromising Safety  

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