Court and Warrant Information Network
ASG developed a network to maintain criminal, civil, and traffic dockets transmitted by magistrate and municipal courts and warrant data transmitted by various justice agencies across South Carolina to a central system. The project included development of local software to maintain and transmit data on a regular basis. The network was developed and enhanced from 1995 through 2001.
In South Carolina, more than six hundred magistrate and municipal courts process a total of about one million cases per year: 200,000 criminal; 200,000 civil; and 600,000 traffic. Although this data is not "high-profile," like that maintained by South Carolina Court Administration (SCCA) general-sessions courts, it is valuable because it can be used to track criminals. Often a high-profile criminal could be apprehended if criminal justice representatives knew of outstanding charges when the criminal appeared in a magistrate court.
Summary Court Docket Database
In 1995, ASG developed a summary court docket database for criminal, civil, and traffic courts. The project was funded by the South Carolina Department of Public Safety (DPS), which recognized the value of developing a central database to store and link the associated criminal, civil, and traffic docket data. Furthermore, such a database could be expanded to allow a user to cross-reference court dockets, warrants, and jail and prison occupancy, thus providing an extremely efficient criminal tracking system.
Magistrate and municipal courts participated by transmitting electronic court docket files to the central database, which resided on a central server. Development of the court information network ran concurrently with the Jail and Prison Information Network and shared many design features.
At the same time, most warrants in South Carolina were issued for misdemeanor crimes and were not maintained in a central database. Although the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division maintained a “Wanted” database, the only warrants posted were usually for high-profile crimes.
Since judges and law enforcement officers could benefit from studying outstanding warrant lists of not only high-profile, but also misdemeanor crimes, ASG developed a warrant database in conjunction with the summary court database. Both databases were developed using Oracle database tools.
As in the JPIN project, it was essential that magistrate and municipal courts had individual database systems, including hardware, software, training, and support, to manage court dockets and to transmit electronic data.
Thus, ASG further developed the local management software to include not only jail management, but also magistrate and warrant management. Developed using Microsoft Access and ProComm communications software, Jail, Magistrate, Warrant (JMW) software was designed to be easy to use.
ASG equipped fifteen magistrate court sites with Gateway Pentium personal computers containing built-in modems, pre-installed Microsoft Office software, and a Hewlett-Packard LaserJet printer, and the JMW software. These sites could easily transmit data to the central court and warrant databases by clicking a button in the JMW software.
ASG staff provided support by visiting these magistrate sites each quarter. ASG also worked with larger court sites that owned computers to help implement electronic download and transmission procedures to the summary court and warrant databases.
The summary court and warrant databases were later linked to a secure website, where information was integrated from multiple types of justice agencies, including jails, prisons, detention centers, sheriffs’ offices, probation and parole offices, and others. This pioneering web system was called the South Carolina Integrated Criminal Records Information System (SCI-CRIS).
ASG Project Support
- All maintenance for inmate database and SCI-CRIS, including hardware, software (UNIX, Oracle, ARC/INFO, SAS, and ASG programs), communications (modems, terminal servers, toll-free data lines, and Internet access), and secure housing with constant power
- Improvements in the entire system, especially the identification and repair of software bugs
- Site visits and audits every three months
- Training seminars and workshops at individual sites and at the University of South Carolina
- Toll-free telephone number for users needing help with problems and questions
- User documentation and on-line information for system training and support
- Assistance in installing ASG software onto site hardware
- Assistance in writing field headers for data export from existing local database systems to the central database