When was the last time your city or county took a good look at your jail management system (JMS)? While everyone recognizes the efficiency of sharing information between CAD and field response and records and evidence, they often overlook the final step in the workflow – correctional facilities. Typically understaffed and underfunded, jails are now challenged with intaking and managing more inmates with more flexible sentences, making jail management software that is connected to the rest of the public safety workflow an absolute necessity. With the rising demand on correctional staff to do more with less, it’s more important than ever to make the most out of your investment. Here are some key capabilities to look for in jail management software.
A Solution Built to Integrate
The days of a standalone jail management system have passed. If a jail does not have direct insight into an incoming inmate from the original arrest record, the correctional officers are already behind before they’ve even begun the booking process. Not to mention the duplicate effort it takes to gather the same information that would be found through the records management system (RMS) and inputting that into the jail booking software, which also keeps officers in the intake line instead of out in the community, and increases the risks of an unfortunate encounter between incoming prisoners. And with new flexible sentencing, a single prisoner could go through the intake and release process dozens of times while paying their debt to society. All of this goes to show how critical it is to get the intake and booking process right, complete with the information your correctional staff need, when they need it. But intake is only the beginning.
Being part of the larger public safety software workflow is essential to creating the most efficient process for everyone at a correctional facility, which is why robust integration abilities are a must when it comes to getting the best jail management software. Pulling information from the records management system (RMS) gives your correctional officers pertinent information about an inmate. The more information available to them, the more context they have for interactions with that inmate, resulting in a smoother, safer experience for everyone.
And just like with intake, true integration can speed up the release process after an inmate has completed their sentence. Additionally, the JMS is not the only beneficiary of software integration; information flows both ways. The mugshot from the booking process can be accessed through the RMS person record to provide the most up-to-date photograph for an individual being sought at a later date.
Software is only as strong as it is human-centered, because only then does it augment the user’s abilities in a way that makes sense. Correctional facilities have often required officers to wear multiple hats and complete functions across the entire workflow. With the increase in jail populations combined with the ever-present challenge to keep up with staffing, this problem has only escalated. The last thing you need to worry about is the software not keeping up or adding inefficiencies that could easily be avoided. When you have to work across the jail from intake to booking to housing and release, you need a system that is specifically designed with that workflow in mind, saving you login time and eliminating multiple data entry points.
A human-centered design philosophy ensures that each update or new feature is done with the intent to simplify the workflow and cognitive load for corrections officers. Look for a jail management system software that has a strong research and design team behind it because the time invested into the design of the software will directly correlate with how simple that solution is to use for your jail.
Criminal Justice Information (CJI) data is critical to providing you the information you need to protect your community, and securing it properly is critical to preserving civil liberties. The same care and consideration put into securing the inmates within the facility should be put into securing the software that manages their data. When reviewing jail software solutions, choose one that can help you meet CJIS security requirements through various safeguards.
For example, Motorola Solutions’ CommandCentral Jail uses Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) for data encryption as it is shared over public networks. All access to and protection of your data is controlled by your agency through parameters you set. Audit logs help you know who is accessing what and when so that your administrators can ensure the system is being used only for the intended purposes by those with the correct authorization. Keeping track of these happenings also helps you know if or where additional training might be needed in the event that certain data entry standards are not being followed. Even in a multi-agency setting, agencies can use partitioning and detailed permissions to ensure that only the data they want is being shared out to neighboring agencies.
As with any public safety software, you don’t just buy the one solution, you also buy into the company. So be sure to select a partner that is looking toward the future and has the right resources to support their customers along their journey of evolution, however long that might take. A jail management system software provider needs to have a strong history of dedication to continuous innovation backed by customer feedback. Although the product should continually be evaluated for ways to improve, it should also be based around the idea of evolution, not revolution, meaning that your agency can make the necessary changes with the software at your own pace to ensure wide-spread adoption and overall comfort with the product.
Motorola Solutions’ CommandCentral Jail leverages the cloud and agile development, but its development is based on a constant feedback loop from customer agencies across the country. This enables adoption of new innovations and capabilities in a more manageable, less intrusive way and helps us meet a facility’s changing needs in a manner that maximizes the overall return on investment by making incremental changes on the solutions and workflows that their users are already familiar with.
With so much required of jails and with so little resources to put toward those requirements, it’s more important than ever to critically evaluate where those limited resources go. Learn more about CommandCentral Jail, a proven, reliable jail management solution or request a demo of our end-to-end software solution, CommandCentral.