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Statewide information-sharing system for police and courts is finalist in Computerworld Honors

Pennsylvania has 67 counties, each with their own state police stations, local police departments, court systems and probation offices. These agencies all need the ability to share information about people in the criminal-justice system while keeping their own information secure.

Fortunately they have access to the Pennsylvania Justice Network, more commonly known as JNET. The system stores information like driver's license photos and outstanding warrants, with each piece of data available throughout the system when one user uploads it. JNET also includes facial-recognition software and includes data from nearby states. "It's like surfing the Internet for criminal-justice information," says the network's executive director, Dave Naisby. About 38,000 people use JNET, including those who work in welfare, domestic relations and the court system.

Officials from other states often approach JNET for guidance on sharing this type of information. The agency was also recently recognized as a finalist in the Computerworld Honors Program. That award was given for an address-search application within JNET, which allows users to search for a criminal's address in one spot instead of 10. Overall the agency estimates that this saves $1.9 million in staff time each year.

"Address information is critical for criminal justice," Naisby says. For example, probation officers need it to find the people they're keeping an eye on and police can use it to be sure they know who they're arresting.

JNET is planning to roll out other improvements, including applications that allow users to more quickly run background checks and search for people based on just a few pieces of information.

Source: Dave Naisby, Pennsylvania Justice Network
Writer: Rebecca VanderMeulen

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