Maricopa starts on criminal data network

Maricopa County, Ariz.

As part of a new system for criminal justice data, Maricopa County, Ariz., has begun using common case numbers to track criminal cases.

The Arizona county is in its first phase of an integrated criminal justice information system (ICJIS) for several county agencies, including sheriff, county attorney, county clerk, public defender and Superior Court. The new case numbers will tell them the status of cases. In the past, a case may have had several different numbers from the various agencies.

Larry Bernosky, data integration manager for the criminal data project, said many times criminal cases have multiple defendants, each of whom could, theoretically, get a different number under the old system. Some of those cases could be resolved before others. "You lose continuity of who was involved in the case and where they are," Bernosky said.

So far about 30,000 cases have a common case number, but that doesn't represent the entire county caseload, which is about 100,000 annually. The numbering system is being applied in phases. About 15 "compelling" events, such as criminal arrests — determination of an individual's mental capacity and individuals on probation moving to another state — generate cases, Bernosky said.

The county plans to next accelerate use of the common case number system at the Initial Appearance Court, where individuals are arraigned within 48 hours of being arrested, and when somebody is booked in jail. Eventually, Maricopa officials hope to have the system available as soon as people are arrested in the field.

Bernosky said the groups involved had about 25 sessions to map out how cases flow through the system and each agency's business processes. The team used a Computer Associates data-modeling tool to document business operations and reduce design and development time, he said.

With a population of 3.2 million, Maricopa County, which includes Scottsdale, Tempe and the greater Phoenix area, has seen rapid growth over the last several years. Sixty percent of the state's population lives in Maricopa, which produces 60 percent to 70 percent of Arizona's criminal filings, Bernosky said.

As part of a 1998 bond referendum to build a new jail, voters approved $25 million for the new justice data system. The first phase of ICJIS, which includes the common case number, an online pre-booking system, business process improvements and an integration server, has a 2005 target date, Bernosky said.

After that, the county plans to improve information-sharing with other government agencies and move to XML standards for electronic documents and public access to information.


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