The Rhode Island Department of Corrections has been selected to become a Pilot Site for a U.S. Department of Justice Reentry Information Sharing Project. Rhode Island is only one of two states in the nation (the other is Maryland) afforded this opportunity. This initiative allows Rhode Island to design, develop, and implement a set of electronic data sharing capabilities to exchange information among agency partners about reentering offenders with the goal of improving the chances of successful reentry and reduce recidivism.
Through the efforts of staff in many state agencies and community-based agencies, Rhode Island has seen great advances in effective prisoner reentry since Governor Donald Carcieri made this issue a cornerstone of his criminal justice policy in an Executive Order in 2003.
Since that time, the Rhode Island Department of Corrections and its partner agencies have implemented risk assessments, developed a case management system, ramped up programming for the offender population, and better connected released offenders with post-release services. The Department has built relationships among our community corrections staff, law enforcement agencies, providers and leaders at local levels across our state. This spirit of cooperation played an important role in stabilizing the inmate census while increasing public safety -- an accomplishment that has earned us nationwide recognition.
Data sharing across agency lines has historically been one area where Rhode Island and virtually every jurisdiction around the country has been lagging. The technical assistance project of the US Department of Justice provides a unique opportunity to address this issue and greatly enhance Rhode Islandís ability to work collaboratively on individual cases.
A pilot team has been assembled that consists of subject matter experts and technical staff from the Rhode Island Department of Corrections, the Department of Children, Youth and Families, the Department of Human Services, the Department of Mental Health, Retardation and Hospitals, the Department of Labor and Training, the Office of the Attorney General, the Rhode Island State Police, and the Rhode Island Judiciary. A kick-off meeting was held on May 17, 2010, with over 30 in attendance from these agencies as well as representatives from five national agencies; SEARCH (the National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics), the Association of State Correctional Administrators (ASCA), the Integrated Justice Information Systems (IJIS) Institute, the American Probation and Parole Association (APPA) and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA).
Enthusiasm for this project is high across all involved agencies. The goal is to complete information exchanges within a 12-month time frame. If successful, the project will branch out to include community partners who provide services to released offenders.