Alaska Corrections Department Updates Offender Tracking
The Alaska Department of Corrections, which includes 13 correctional institutions and 16 probation offices with 1,250 users dispersed throughout the largest state in the union, turned to a server-based system to centralize and distribute applications efficiently and cost-effectively, while enabling department personnel (correctional officers, probation officers, and executives) to securely and instantly access critical data from any location at any time.
The Department of Corrections uses Citrix Systems’ Access Platform to deploy and maintain its Offender Tracking Information System (OTIS), a critically important custom application for inmate information such as physical descriptors, charges, and booking and release dates. By installing Presentation Server, Information Technology (IT) administrators eliminated the need to manually input updates to the application, a process that frequently took days.
Citrix Presentation Server also improved information sharing among department employees statewide. The departments previous client-server environment was insufficient to accommodate uploads of large amounts of data to OTIS, a bandwidth-intensive COBOL application, across a Wide Area Network (WAN), so employees were inclined to enter only a minimal set of details as they updated inmate records. Because the system efficiently utilizes available bandwidth by transmitting only mouse clicks and keystrokes over the network, instead of entire documents, employees now experience fast upload times, even over slow dial-up connections and across vast distances.
The system also improves the security and privacy of sensitive data held in the OTIS information repository. Previously, the department relied on network firewalls as a security measure; however, the firewalls could not ensure security outside the confines of each office. Consequently, personnel could not access work information from remote locations or while on travel–a problem given the size of the state and its wide population distribution. With Citrix, privacy of sensitive information about inmates is maintained because the application resides only on secure, consolidated servers. Presentation Server also allows IT managers to control access to OTIS based upon each employees responsibility and needs, improving the internal security profile.
We do not have to sacrifice speed or security to deliver a full-service application to the state, said Daniel Roberts, network technology expert, Alaska Department of Corrections. Citrix enables better security and better speed without forfeiting functionality. Solutions that allow us to avoid that tradeoff are unique.
The department also uses the Citrix Access Platform to provide legal information to inmates at a lower cost. State law requires correctional facilities to make up-to-date legal materials available to inmates. To comply with the law, the department partnered with LexisNexis to replace hard copies of legal material with a digital law library accessed via Presentation Server over thin-client terminals. The department previously provided bound legal volumes, which needed to be replaced if even one page were removed or defaced. The department was spending $90,000 annually to replace volumes, which cost more than $100 each.
The digital law library not only eliminated time spent on procurement and distribution of legal volumes, but also volume-replacement costs. Overall, the digital law library reduced the total annual cost of managing the law materials by $145,000, including cost savings from two full-time employees who were redirected to other duties, while improving inmate access to the required information.
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