By: Steve Glisky, Practice Manager, ImageSoft
The criminal justice system holds prosecutors and law enforcement officers to unique statutory responsibilities which, when not honored, can lead to misconduct and disciplinary action. The effort required to ensure these protocols are respected at times take a backseat to the daily grind of pushing stacks of paper files through the justice system.
Jurisdictions that move from paper to electronic-based prosecution increase the speed and consistency of prosecuting cases. A solution that expands throughput while systemizing compliance rules helps improve justice and community confidence. As a blueprint feature of the Paperless Prosecutor Solution (PPS), statute compliancy has been built into the daily operations of prosecutors’ offices across the country.
You Ask, We Answer
As we walk through each of these compliancy features, think about your own processes and how you honor each of these responsibilities. Are you taking unnecessary time-consuming steps? Is your protocol safeguarding your cases as much as it should?
CJIS Security Policy
Passing a CJIS Security Audit goes beyond just getting your staff and partners finger printed and trained. A key tenant to CJIS security requirements is that any data exchanged between law enforcement and prosecution must be encrypted end-to-end and while at rest. Simply receiving sensitive information from law enforcement via a standard email is a sure way to fail an audit and incur penalties. The Paperless Prosecutor Solution is the Rx for CJIS audit anxiety because it uses an innovative and secure Law Enforcement Agency Portal (LEAP) for streamlining communication with the prosecutor’s office. Paperless prosecution is a great way to audit proof your office while enjoying a peace of mind that critical information is safe and secure.
It’s a violation of due process if the prosecution fails to disclose evidence throughout the life of a case. In the paper world, it’s often difficult to track and prove when discoverable materials are sent. Any missteps could result in a mistrial or a decision being overturned.
Paperless prosecution protects the office against these types of challenges by automating the discovery process, enabling the systematic redaction of documents at the time of intake, and providing a complete audit trail of when and to whom discoverable materials are sent. Updated discovery statuses and materials are always available anytime in the courtroom or office.
The prosecutor must notify victims about many things, including their rights to participate in the case, receive plea agreement recommendations, and attend the sentencing hearing to express how the crime has affected their lives. As all prosecutors know, failure to honor these responsibilities undermines justice by not giving the victim a voice in the outcome of the case.
PPS ensures that justice is served by automatically alerting the Victim Rights Coordinator to send out notifications to the victim based upon pre-defined rules of the office. This keeps the victim engaged throughout the case and helps uphold the public’s trust in their prosecutor and the entire justice system.
Prosecutors must properly subpoena witnesses prior to court hearings. If the witness fails to appear, it’s incumbent on the prosecutor to know the serve status of the subpoena. If the witness was properly served but failed to appear, a bench warrant could be issued depending on the circumstance. In a paper-based environment, it’s very difficult to locate accurate serve-status information at the time of the hearing.
This isn’t a problem, however, with PPS, which delivers real-time serve status updates from the LEAP portal to the Prosecutor’s electronic case file. Going a step further, this data-driven approach also equips the prosecutor with the number of attempts it took to serve the witness.
In-custody arrests are time sensitive for the Prosecutor. Typically, prosecutors have only 48 hours to make a charging decision. If the Prosecutor fails to issue charges within this timeframe, law enforcement must let potentially dangerous offenders go free. Unfortunately, mistakes and delays do occur, and inadvertent releases happen more than they should.
PPS protects the public against this threat by color coding in-custody prosecution requests red with high priority. If prosecution requests are not screened within three hours, an automatic alert is sent out to the assigned attorney and office administrator. Additional escalation alerts are sent to the Chief Assistant Prosecutor and the Prosecutor if the request still hasn’t been screened within a pre-designated timeframe. The combination of real-time data exchange with law enforcement and built-in priority escalation and alerts gives the prosecutor the upper hand in keeping dangerous felons off the street.
When a conflict of interest exists, prosecutors are obligated to lock out certain users from viewing a case file. This occurs when an office employee is closely related to a party or has some special relationship to the case that may call into question the person’s objectivity and how the case would be handled. PPS safeguards sensitive details from these individuals to ensure the consistency and integrity of the office.
For large offices or state-wide deployments, PPS manages policy and procedure administration from end-to-end through Document Knowledge Transfer and Compliance (DKTC). DKTC ensures all employees have access to the most up-to-date versions of required materials and that deadlines for review and acknowledgement are enforced. Compliance testing is available to gauge employees’ comprehension of distributed content via scoring reports and test certificates.
What We’re Really Trying to Say
PPS is a valuable tool for keeping the Prosecutor’s office and Law Enforcement Agencies compliant with state rules. Creating a digital environment with PPS also improves prosecution efficiency, consistency, and transparency. Jurisdictions across the nation are investing in this innovation and, as a result, better serving and protecting their communities.
PPS Cloud, a new tool for reducing upfront costs and deploy times, will also soon be available. Please contact us if you’re interested in learning more about staying statute compliant with the Paperless Prosecution Solution.