C is for CJIS

178_cookieAnd criminal justice. And compliance. Coincidence? Clearly not.

Okay, we’re done being clever. After all, criminal justice information services (CJIS) is no joke.

An Acronym I Should Know?

Do you interact with, manage, or otherwise handle criminal justice information (CJI)? Then “yes!’”

CJIS compliance was established and is currently enforced by the FBI. Compliance ensures that professionals handling CJI, including cloud vendors providing software as a service (SaaS), prosecutor’s offices, government agencies, and more, adhere to pre-established, best practices regarding information security when working remotely or on wireless networks, establishing data encryption tactics, developing authentication processes, and other workflow activities.

As you probably guessed, CJIS compliance audits are complex and uncompromising. This seems frustrating to criminal justice professionals trying to do their jobs, but it’s a necessary safeguard for protecting our nation’s justice system.

How Can I Get Started?

Step one: Take some time to read through and understand the FBI’s Security Policy Requirement Document, and accept that complying with the CJIS security policy is no easy gold star.

While we wish we could offer you a magic solution that brings organizations up to pace with every CJIS standard, we can’t. As of today, no one can. But, we can offer some insight into a few processes you’ll want to tighten up (or implement!) in your efforts to prepare for certification.

What Am I Looking At?

In a nutshell, your processes for managing and handling CJI.

From data storage and retrieval to accessibility, internal workflows and communication between law enforcement agencies, courts, prosecutors, etc., you should be able to answer where the information is (and quickly locate it), whose hands it has been in and how it’s been altered at any given time. AKA, an auditable trail.

Hand-in-hand with being able to trace your data’s history is ensuring and proving the integrity of the information entrusted to your care, which can be safeguarded by data encryption and multi-step authentication processes.

You’re Sure There’s Not an App For That?

Yup. But digitizing records, evidence, reports and other CJI material enables you to leverage digital portals that facilitate communication between all necessary parties. These portals, such as LEAP, walk you a few steps closer to meeting CJIS standards.

Implementing robust workflows do not fulfil CJIS compliance, but they do support your efforts in checking the boxes to uphold data integrity and secure confidence in your service to the public.

If you’re interested in CJIS compliance, we recommend partnering with a trusted software vendor who can assess your current processes and recommend solutions or “next steps” for optimizing information security.

Remember: partnering vendors are responsible for ensuring their solutions uphold the promised functionality, but you play a role in sustaining the leveraged technology and continuing to pursue best practices. To help you fulfil your part, ask your vendor to outline a matrix that details the implemented functionalities, and who is responsible for maintaining each aspect of the solution required to comply with the CJIS Security Policy.

We Want to Hear From You!

Are you CJIS compliant or in the process? What hurdles are you facing?

Respond in the “comments” section below or on our Court Solutions showcase page. We read and respond – promise!

State Statutes Got You Stressed? Go Paperless

By: Steve Glisky, Practice Manager, ImageSoft

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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.

Discovery

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.

Victim Rights

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.

Subpoenas

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

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.

Conflict-of-Interest Cases

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.

Policy Administration

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.