Bugs in prison management software have kept people behind bars longer Software that has been put online despite reluctance from developers

The failure to update critical prison management software has kept hundreds of people in Arizona behind bars longer than they should, according to a whistleblower report. Arizona Correctional Department employees have known about the bug since 2019. The flaw follows a change in state law that the software simply cannot manage since it has not been updated to address it. .

Staff said they had been raising the issue internally for over a year, but prison administrators took no action to fix the software bug. The sources said CIO Holly Greene and Deputy Director Joe Profiri have been aware of the problem since 2019. In fact, the Arizona Department of Corrections has confirmed that there is an issue with the software.

Arizona has one of the highest jail rates in the country, with drug convictions being one of the highest factors. An Arizona state law amendment in June 2019 created a mechanism by which inmates convicted of certain non-violent drug offenses can earn credits for early release. Eligible inmates who complete a program as a General Educational Development (GED) equivalent, the name given to a set of five subject-matter exams which, when passed, assert that a person has academic level proficiency. high school in the United States or Canada) or drug addiction treatment while incarcerated can earn three days of credit for every seven days served and reduce the length of their stay behind bars to 70% of their assigned sentence.

The Arizona Department of Corrections’ own FAQ on the program states (answer question 9 of the document) that neither inmates nor their families should contact anyone to request an eligibility review. This is done automatically based on the system programming, which generates a list for Time Comp, the document reads. Reviews are being completed based on the earliest scheduled release dates. According to whistleblowers, however, this system cannot identify eligible participants and still does not do these calculations.

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We knew from day one that this was not going to work, a source from the Corrections Department said. When they approved this bill, we looked at it and said, “Oh, flte.”.

Whistleblowers say they began making repeated internal warnings to departmental IT managers in 2019. US media KJZZ obtained a copy of an October 2020 bug report detailing how the software, known as ACIS, does not comply with the law.

Currently, this calculation is not at all in ACIS, we read in the report. ACIS can calculate 1 credit earned for every 6 days served, but this is a recalculation.

The minister confirmed to KJZZ that he was aware of the problem with ACIS. The data is manually calculated and then entered into the system, spokesman Bill Lamoreaux KJZZ said, saying the department has identified at least 733 inmates eligible to participate in the early release program, but who have not yet been registered.

Just the tip of the iceberg

Although the problems related to the calculation of sentences are worrying, sources for the minister say that these programming problems are only the tip of the iceberg. According to the sources, the inmate management software package, known as ACIS, has experienced more than 14,000 bugs since its implementation in November 2019.

It was Thanksgiving weekend, a source said. We were killing ourselves working on it, but everyone associated with the software deployment begged (Deputy Director) Profiri not to put the software online.

But several sources involved in the deployment said they had been instructed by the department leadership not to say a word about their concerns. We were told: too much money has been spent, we can’t back down now.

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Since deployment, sources for the minister say several other programs have not functioned properly, including modules that track inmate health care, personal counting, inmate assets, financial accounts, religious affiliation. , security classification and gang affiliations.

We have put people together in cells who are part of conflicting gangs without realizing it, a source said. We cannot keep the good drugs with the critically ill inmates when they are transferred to a new unit. We put people at risk. It is only a matter of time before someone is killed or died.

The sources said the ACIS software also makes it difficult for employees to correct errors once they have been identified.

Prison management software

There is a whole sprawling American patch software industry. At some level, prison and inmate management systems make sense: you need to know who is in an institution, where they are, what their medical needs are, who their legal representation is, etc. However, as the elements of the criminal justice system are transferred more and more from management algorithms, real people are more and more affected by the flaws in this software. The deployment of ACIS in Arizona took three years longer than planned and was consistently over budget, local media reported at the time.

Since it was finally implemented over Thanksgiving weekend in 2019, ACIS has remained plagued by bugs, sources said. Several modules of the software did not function properly, including modules that track inmate health care, personal counting, inmate property, financial accounts, religious affiliation, security classification and affiliations. to gangs. And when human error introduces something incorrect into an inmate’s file, employees may not have a way to eliminate or correct the error.

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In one case, there was a disciplinary action entered in error on an inmate’s file, a source said. But there is no way to go back. So this guy was punished and he couldn’t make a phone call for 30 days. These are the kinds of things you have to deal with every day.

Software suites used by police departments and courts long before anyone was submitted to prison management software have also been widely criticized in recent years, both for their lack of transparency and for their racial bias. ProPublica published a detailed and in-depth report in 2016 that found that courts’ risk assessment software ranked black suspects as more likely to commit other crimes than white suspects who allegedly committed similar acts.

Sources : FAQ Arizona Department of Corrections, KJZZ

And you ?

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Are you for or against putting online an application that has many known flaws to meet delivery deadlines? In what context ?

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