Counties plan tech cures for crime
- By Dibya Sarkar
- Sep 14, 2000
A New York county and two Montana counties are planning to use technology
to enhance their criminal justice systems thanks to grants awarded last
week by the Justice Department.
Justice awarded 22 local jurisdictions with grants aimed at reducing
crime. The department received more than 1,300 applications from state,
local, and tribal government and justice agencies.
Dutchess County, about 70 miles north of New York City and with a population
of about 265,000, received $134,000 — "seed money" that will be used to
hire a researcher and data designer to enhance the county's information
system, according to Patricia Resch, director of the county's probation
and community correction office. Records in the county's computer systems
are based on case management, and Resch said it's difficult to spot trends,
such as who's getting arrested, how the criminal justice system responds
to offenders, and how long it takes to prosecute felony and misdemeanor
cases. Resch said it will take up to three years to transform the system
into one based on conducting research.
"What [we're] looking for is a way to enhance justice being administered
fairly and rapidly and that outcomes are positive for the victim as well
as for the perpetrator," Resch explained. "We can't make good policy decisions
unless we have good information, and you can't have good information unless
you have good technology."
With their $60,000 grant, the central Montana counties of Mussellshell
and Golden Valley plan to outfit patrol cars with video recording systems
that will be logged in to a computer database.
Mussellshell spokesman Shawn Todd said the counties hope the proposed
technology will reduce the case workload and the amount of time the counties'
attorney's office spends on cases. The counties share a county attorney,
who is "swamped" adjudicating cases, Todd said.
The counties' grant application indicates that the attorney handles
about 180 combined cases based on traffic stops. Todd said the video technology
would help strengthen some prosecutions and enable some cases to be thrown
The Mussellshell County Sheriff's Department has six patrol cars, and
Golden Valley has two.
The counties, located north of Billings, have a combined population
of about 5,600 and encompass nearly 3,000 square miles.