System enhancements improve non-violent prisoner rehabilitation
In November 2016, California voters passed Propositions 57 and 64, continuing a fundamental shift that began in 2012 in public policy regarding prisoner rehabilitation. Specifically, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) is working to divert low-risk offenders from prison toward community-based alternatives, increase the extent to which inmate behavior and rehabilitation are used to determine inmates’ release from prison, and improve offender re-integration into the community. To align with these objectives, the Strategic Offender Management System (SOMS) team implemented five major enhancement releases along with numerous incremental releases throughout 2017.
One of SOMS’ functions is to calculate offender release dates, parole eligibility dates and discharge dates. In the early months of 2017, SOMS business analysts worked with CDCR’s legal team to define policy changes that substantially change release date calculation rules and program eligibility criteria. Due to the magnitude of the changes and public pressure on CDCR for urgent response to the legislation, the SOMS team implemented Prop 57-driven changes in phases, with software releases in May and August, and a third planned for early December.
The SOMS team also partnered with CDCR to improve pre-release planning and offender re-integration. The SOMS “Release Program Study” module, implemented in October 2017, fosters timely completion of all pre-release processes and improves coordination and communication across organizational disciplines of Case Records, Education, Mental Health, Classification, Re-entry, Parole Agents and the Board of Parole Hearings.
Toward the same goal of rehabilitation and offender re-integration, the team significantly expanded the level of integration between SOMS and external systems. For example:
- The October release augmented SOMS’ “2-way” interfaces with California Correctional Health Care Services (CCHCS). Risk factors contained in SOMS are now used to systematically alert mental health staff of required intervention, and mental health assessment information garnered by CCHCS is now readily available to custody staff through the SOMS application to benefit staff and inmate safety.
- A newly-developed application will improve logistics of transporting inmates to health care appointments, tracking outcomes and integrating with CCHCS systems to achieve the goal of establishing objective measures of inmate access to health services.
- In October, the SOMS application was integrated with the Board of Parole Hearings’ system to track screening and potential civil commitment of sexually violent predators and mentally disordered offenders, providing SOMS users with critical information to support supervision and rehabilitation of offenders.
- The December release will further integrate information and improve business processes to manage offenders located in non-CDCR facilities, such as re-entry hubs and specialty-service facilities, through programmatic audits, alerts and reports.
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