The Illinois Department of Corrections is taking a huge gamble by relying on Microsoft’s new software product “Offender 360” for management of the entire state prison apparatus.  Offender 360 is an entirely new software venture into the corrections industry for Microsoft, which is trying to expand from its private consumer/business market share into all aspects of governmental agency operations. There are no market reviews for usage of Offender 360 yet; the Illinois Department of Corrections is the first major corrections system in the nation to buy the software and to implement it throughout all it’s operations. Offender 360, is part of the new Microsoft Dynamics CRM, a line of recently developed business supply management products aimed at handling various governmental functions.

The success of Offender 360 is important to Microsoft as well as to the state of Illinois correctional system. Microsoft is encouraging IDOC’s commitment to adopt Offender 360 in whatever manner it can because IDOC’s transition to Offender 360 is still on shaky grounds financially. IDOC is envisioning overhauling it’s entire agency computer system and the additional 41 other databases it draws information from in order to change entirely to use of Offender 360. This change is going to cost the state of IL big bucks which it does not yet have. As the Peoria Journal-Star reported in a recent article, the money to pay for Offender 360 is not yet all there:

Is prison tech overhaul too costly?

General Assembly must decide whether to keep paying on $30 million comprehensive computer system upgrade

“…Quinn has proposed funding in the fiscal year 2012 capital and operating budgets to pay for the overhaul, but it’s unclear from budget documents how much would be devoted to Offender 360 alone. The agency’s proposed FY2012 budget is $1.36 billion, of which $3.4 million would be spent on capital improvements…”

The money for the capital improvements budget is being challenged in court, and the IL General Assembly will have to come up with some other funding source for the Offender 360 transition in the 2012 budget in order to make further progress on it a certainty. So far, IDOC has completed stage one of it’s adoption by putting on it the most important databases which it relies upon for inmate information. The next stage depends upon IDOC being able to incorporate into Offender 360, the numerous outside databases it also uses.

Microsoft is trying to help things along and also use IDOC as a showcase for Offender 360. Perhaps this is the reason Microsoft passed out one of it’s 19, 2011 recognition awards to IDOC for being a good Microsoft Dynamics Customer, as IDOC was happy to announce as news on it’s website on April 29, 2011 (here).

Microsoft hypes that the Offender 360 software fully integrates with Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft Office. Let’s hope that this does not render Offender 360 susceptible to any of the various bug and virus vulnerabilities that plague other Microsoft products given the sensitive nature of the information it will ultimately contain as indicated below.

The specifics of the Offender 360 software (as detailed in the Tribridge product brochure) are as follows:

Offender Tracking & Management

Ability to categorize, track, and search for offenders:

  • By institution and current location (boot camp, etc.)
  • By key identification numbers including ID#, FBI #, IR#, BDI#, Social Security #
  • By key demographic data including height, weight, hair color, eye color, race, religion, known aliases
  • Ability to track offenders’ key identifying scars and marks (e.g. tattoos)
  • By important security characteristics, including offender grade, aggression level, security threat group association  and rank, sex offender classification, weapons violation classification, and staff assault classification

Ability to track offender’s one or many incarcerations (often called Admissions), including:

  • Admission type
  • Key dates
  • Key indicators (Violence Against Youth, Warrant, etc.)
  • Institution security level
  • Offender behavior designation
  • Projected Parole (MSR)information
  • Discharge information

Ability to track and search key information regarding multiple institutions, including:

  • Warden
  • Institution type and code
  • Security level
  • Physical location
  • Offenders currently housed within that institution

Ability to track offender movement history within and between institutions by specific:

  • Locations
  • House or Facility
  • Gallery, Cell and Bed

Ability to display offender disciplinary history during incarceration

Ability to track offender’s sentence information, including:

  • Sentence duration
  • Victim age range
  • Crime class
  • Related offense code and statute number
  • Key dates

Ability to track offender’s Mittimus records, including:

  • Mitt number and sequence
  • Key dates
  • Committing county
  • Related sentences

Ability to display electronic copy of the offender’s Statement of Fact document

Ability to perform ad-hoc queries in support of real-time data analysis.  Just a few examples of the kinds of data that can be quickly mined in the system:

  • Offenders under the age of 50 with a projected Parole (MSR) date within 5 years
  • Offenders classified as highly aggressive, high escape risk, with known affiliations to one or many security threat groups
  • Offenders who are over 6’5’’, require a guard escort, and have committed staff assaults
  • Offenders sentenced for drug trafficking in selected County within the last 5 years who have successfully completed drug rehab or anger management programs

So far, it does not appear that completing stage one is allowing IDOC to feel confident enough to again start awarding the Meritorious Good Time which it should be issuing to present prison inmates any time soon. IDOC’s complete implementation of the Offender 360 transition has been cited in the media as the necessary precursor to the reinstatement of any significant attempt to reduce overcrowding in state prisons by releasing inmates early.

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