Oklahoma Department Of Corrections Attempts To Go Digital With Inmate Information

Wednesday, April 8th 2015, 6:41 pm
By: Dana Hertneky

We're in middle of the technological revolution, where information is at your fingertips and interconnected. But at the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, paper files are still used to keep track of prisoners and all their pertinent information.

As inmates are processed into the Lexington Assessment & Reception Center, they are given a haircut, jumpsuit, and the beginnings of a paper trail that will follow them through their entire incarceration.

“We're behind the times I guess you'd say,” said the Warden Jim Farris.

The records room is a scene straight out of the 1950's. There files are created for new prisoners. And for repeat customers, as they can be called: their previous paperwork is dug up and joined with their new information.

It's a time consuming and labor intensive process, and one where crucial information can be kept out of the hands of those who need it most.

“When they go into the unit, sometimes it's days before they're put into EMS, OMS or the information is passed onto us, since it's in the file and not on the computer,” said Romon Jones, Chief of Security.

“A lot of times we don't have the full information and we have to dig into the paperwork with different things gang related activities. If you have rival gangs you don't want to put one is with another. That can be something you really need to stay on top of that not actually in the computer system that we have to dig on a daily basis.”

Pages of paperwork are added to the file almost every day including movement inside the facility, medical issues, and discipline problems.

And if a prisoner is transferred to another facility the file and all their information is physically transferred right along with them.

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections is asking the legislature for $15 million to switch to a system that would put all this information on electronic files.