In our first post overviewing the functionalities and purpose of an offender management system, we referenced the state that many corrections agencies currently find themselves in in terms of infrastructure-- maintaining outdated technology, or “legacy systems.”
Though one might think this would be out of a desire to save costs, the truth is just because a technology is out of date does not make it cheaper to maintain. In fact, for many systems, maintaining the old systems can become almost more expensive in the long run when compared with replacing them with a more modern system. This is because there are limited solutions that can work to help the old technology, and in most instances, keeping them running is throwing good money after bad. Similar to an old car that is past its due date, with every fix costing more than the car itself is worth, you begin to wonder-- when does it simply make more financial sense to move forward and replace it with something newer and more reliable, especially when that decision is inevitable?
And what about the cost that never shows up in the accounting ledger? Like the lack of data or the poor quality of offender data from legacy systems? How do you quantify the difficulty in providing proper treatment and education for offenders based on their unique circumstances because the data is not accessible or easily able to be analyzed because of system data limitations? Corrections agencies spend an inordinate amount of time and resources creating silo systems in spreadsheets and databases to track ancillary information and data to fill these data gaps.
There’s no doubt about it, implementing a new offender management system is a significant investment. As previously mentioned, these technologies manage a vast array of functionalities across multiple institutions, and they must be customized to meet each state’s individual requirements. Technology of this magnitude and specificity is, and always will be, a costly investment.
However, there are two immensely positive and cost effective reasons to consider this change. The first is, unlike legacy systems, modern technology is “evergreen,” meaning that this system will be able to be continually updated, advancing the technology in perpetuity. This also means this is the last upfront investment an agency will need to make for such a system. After implementation, agencies will be able to continue to evolve as technology does, allowing for regular updates.
The second, of course, is the obvious benefit when upgrading to better technology. Instead of siloed systems that cannot communicate with each other or have to be transferred from one institution to the next, there is one, interoperable system that can operate seamlessly between all functions. From accounting to case management to offender history, your team will be able to access records instantly, as well as keep all their own reporting real time and current.
Moreover, with all the advances technology has made, many of these processes will be accessible from the palm of employees hands through mobile technology. And with a younger workforce expecting the latest technology, you can also begin to attract new agency members from a wider pool.
In our future posts, we will also cover not only the headaches the new technology works to alleviate for your staff, freeing up manpower to focus on things that matter more, but also how the increased gathering of data can begin to improve outlooks for the larger public safety goals and, ultimately, work to lower recidivism rates (the tendency of a convicted offender to reoffend.)
As we seek to both educate and learn together through this series, we invite you to share your feedback, comments, and shared experiences.