Java invigorates probation department

Orange County Probation Department

The Orange County Probation Department in California has used Java, a secure

intranet and browser-based technology to integrate computer systems at more

than 25 facilities.

The new Institutional Management System (IMS), in development for a year,

extends green-screen client/server systems into a single interface, "one-stop

shop" for department employees.

The IMS builds on the department's legacy Case Management System (CMS) to

provide five applications that enable employees to process offenders more

quickly and manage them more closely.

Department officers can do such things as retrieve photographs of offenders,

use bar codes to check people into facilities and follow people as they

move around the facilities. Data entry is managed using Lotus Development

Corp.'s Notes, which allows for easy integration with Microsoft Corp. Word

documents.

"Now we are able to do such things as paste a picture of a juvenile offender

onto the computer screen, blow it up, look at tattoos and so on," said Rose

Hamner, the department's information systems supervisor. "We couldn't do

that with our previous [IBM Corp.] AS/400-based systems. Also, this capability

is now available departmentwide and not just on a stand-alone PC."

The browser-based system eliminates the time and expense of updating software

on each desktop client, she added, and it helps with the training of new

employees — a major requirement given the constant turnover the department

experiences.

Hamner also expects that, because the new system uses pure Java source code,

it will be relatively easy to write extensions for other third-party software

programs the department might want to use, rather than having to develop

code in-house.

Jacada Ltd., which helped develop the IMS, said the Orange County system

is typical of a developing trend in state and local governments to Web-enable

their systems.

The Java-based approach, which requires no change to back-end legacy systems,

aims to provide the kind of low-risk/high-return mechanism that appeals

to budget-conscious agencies, said Rob Morris, senior director of product

marketing at Jacada.

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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