Currently, many states are undertaking reentry initiatives to examine how improved information-sharing among key partners in the reentry process can ensure more successful outcomes. Corrections, law enforcement agencies, and service providers can all benefit from sharing information on justice-involved individuals as they enter and leave correctional supervision. However, historically, key reentry partners have been challenged with sharing this information in an accurate, timely, complete, and secure way.
To enhance information-sharing and collaboration between criminal justice agency systems and non-justice agencies, the Bureau of Justice Assistance provided funding to pilot implementation of reentry information exchanges in three jurisdictions, two at the state level and one at the county level. These sites included the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, the Rhode Island Department of Corrections (RI DOC), and the Hampden County (MA) Sheriff’s Department. To facilitate information-sharing initiatives, BJA identified the Association of State Correctional Administrators (ASCA), the Integrated Justice Information Systems (IJIS) Institute, the American Parole and Probation Association, and SEARCH (The National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics) as partners on this project.
Improving Information-Sharing Among State Agencies in Rhode Island
The purpose of the BJA Corrections Information Exchange for Offender Reentry project was to use Global Justice Information Sharing Initiative (Global) standards and guidelines, including the National Information Exchange Model (NIEM), Global Reference Architecture (GRA), and the Global Federated Identify and Privilege Management (GFIPM) to offer a standards-based approach to improve reentry information-sharing between the RI DOC and their partners in employment, human services, substance abuse and juvenile criminal justice agencies, and community-based service providers that play a role in the reentry process.
The RI DOC was selected because of the state’s demonstrated commitment to information-sharing and reentry innovation. Additionally, the RI DOC is a unified system, which means that jails, probation, parole, and state corrections all fall under the purview of the RI DOC, which greatly simplifies the challenge of connecting disparate records systems.
IJIS’ support was valuable as they helped the RI DOC assess the relevant data elements on justice-involved individuals that are needed to conduct effective reentry programs. According to Robert May, Assistant Director for Program and Technology Services at IJIS, concerns over privacy laws and the ‘need to know’ information on justice-involved populations is a critical factor that all states must consider. Helping the RI DOC and key reentry partners decide what types of information could and should be shared, was a critical part of IJIS efforts to help state agencies collaborate and share information in a meaningful way.
One valuable outcome of the project was that RI DOC identified a need to improve the offender intake process by using official juvenile criminal history data to inform risk/needs assessments and case planning. RI DOC partnered with the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) to obtain this information. As a result, juvenile data will feed multiple assessments at the RI DOC and adult intake counselors can use this information to ask justice-involved individuals about supervision they experienced as a youth.
As a result of the project, the RI DOC will be able to design, develop, and implement a set of electronic data sharing capabilities to exchange information among agency partners about justice-involved individuals reentering their communities with the goal of improving the chances of successful reentry, reducing recidivism and cutting corrections costs.
For communities interested in doing similar work to implement enhancements to their information-sharing capabilities, IJIS provides training, technology assistance, national scope issue management, and program management services to help governments and their private sector partners fully realize the power of information-sharing. To learn more about the benefits of the information-sharing initiative, read the IJIS white paper Value of Corrections Information: Benefits to Justice and Public Safety.
No matter where your agency is in terms of technology implementation, program funding, or information-sharing project planning, multiple opportunities exist to engage in the broader national discussion regarding the future of corrections information exchange. IJIS provides numerous training programs including developer training that covers NIEM and Global standards implementation, as well as offering technical assistance for agencies looking for hands-on guidance on using the latest techniques to improve data access, situational awareness, and decision making. ASCA and APPA also regularly provide training and other educational sessions aimed at practitioners and leaders in the field of corrections reentry.
To learn more about information-sharing standards and guidelines referenced above, click the following links:
For more information on IJIS and its services, visit http://www.ijis.org. To submit the work of your organization or jurisdiction for consideration to be featured in a future BJA NTTAC TTA Spotlight, please email BJANTTAC@ojp.usdoj.gov.