Software issues: Detainees in Arizona sit longer

Hundreds of people are in Arizona prisons when they should be at large. Other prisoners are at risk of unnecessary death from illness or murder. In addition, the agency squandered a million dollars that prisoners are entitled to. The fault is inadequate software. The radio station reports KJZZ from the city of Tempe, citing several whistleblowers.

The state prison authority is having problems with software called Arizona Correctional Information System (ACIS), supplied by Business & Decision North America. ACIS was only installed in November 2019 against employee protests. Even then, the software cost $ 24 million. Since then there are said to have been 14,000 bugs.

In the same year, 2019, a new law came into force. It allows inmates convicted of only possession or use of marijuana, drugs, or paraphernalia to participate in programs in the prison. This affects the largest group of all inmates. The programs include in particular Drug withdrawal, literacy classes, or high school degrees.

Those who successfully complete these courses and meet other criteria should be released earlier – in theory. In practice, the software is neither able to find out which inmates are allowed to participate, nor to calculate the reduction in detention, nor to record the other criteria to be met. Hence, according to them Whistleblower towards KJZZ, hundreds of people are unnecessarily detained two years after the law came into force.

For some, officials use pencil and paper to calculate the reduction in prison term. However, only inmates benefit from it who even know that they are allowed to participate, or those who have relatives who are free to stand up for it. Otherwise, “we can’t find people to take them into the programs and after they graduate from these programs we can’t release them,” a whistleblower told the radio station. “These people are literally trapped.”

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The switch to ACIS is said to have affected other computer programs. Modules for prisoner statistics, inmate property, money accounts, religious affiliation, security classification and, most importantly, health data and gang affiliation do not work correctly

Prisons are very dangerous and violent places. Gang members sometimes only pursue the goal of murdering other inmates who do not belong to their own gang. It is therefore important to separate gangs, in the cells, at meals, even at dental appointments.

“We locked people together in cells belonging to rival gangs without realizing it,” a whistleblower revealed. “We cannot give seriously ill inmates the right medication if they are being relocated. We put people at risk. It is only a matter of time before someone is murdered or dies. “

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