Management Information Systems in Criminal Justice
Students interested in furthering their education with a criminal justice degree must become acquainted with management information systems. Indeed, technical computing systems often interact with and have a real affect on organizational development within the criminal justice field. Knowledge of these devices and tools are sure to advance both a student’s understanding of the field and his or her career prospects.
The main purpose of management information systems is to provide effective and efficient ways to capture, track, analyze and apply information to organizational needs and outcomes. This in turn boosts return on investment from always-scarce resources, especially in a governmental setting.
An example of how management information systems can impact and interact with organizational development and human behavior is the “offender management system.” More and more, state criminal justice systems, like those in place in Utah, are relying on statewide computing systems to keep track of criminal offenders to improve rehabilitation.
These offender management information systems use integrated record tracking from multiple information sources, like drug and alcohol rehabilitation institutions, to improve offender accountability and treatment success.
One such system is called the National Consortium for Offender Management Systems (NCOMS). NCOMS offers end-users a menu of information modules so that they can select and implement all or part of the system, based on their organizational and offender needs. Some of these modules include:
- Institutional Services
- Field and Community Services (parole and probation)
- Work Center Services
- Medical Services (HIPPA Compliant)
- Offender management Programming
- Offender Banking
- Parole Commission
The NCOMS offender management system is thus an excellent example of a management information system. NCOMS is a comprehensive, integrated, web-based system that captures complete offender information from his or her initial entry into the criminal justice system to his or her release from parole or probation, along with everything in between.
One of the benefits of NCOMS is that multiple states are using it to create a common cost-effective standard. This enables states to efficiently and effectively share criminal justice information. Another unique benefit of NCOMS is an end-user “consortium” that helps states share operations costs through pooled purchasing. Above all, NCOMS provides any state wishing to join its consortium the source code for the offender management system— a management information system—free of charge. The state only has to take a few steps to join, primarily in the passing of agreement on a few bylaws. As of now, at least 16 states have joined the system.
All in all, NCOMS provides cost-effective organizational development because its users can do a better job faster with the help of integrated computing. This, in turn, saves the greater public’s tax dollars.