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To Cut Crime, Massachusetts Makes It Easier To Share Criminal Justice Info

February 15, 2005 -- Governor Mitt Romney, following the recommendation of Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey, today issued an executive order to make it easier for criminal justice agencies to share information.

Healey said the newly established Integrated Criminal Justice Planning Council will be responsible for developing a comprehensive plan for the electronic exchange of information in order to more efficiently apprehend and prosecute offenders, identify individuals who are security threats and conduct surveillance.

Cross agency information sharing was a key recommendation of the Governor’s Commission on Criminal Justice Innovation, which Healey chaired.

“This effort will allow criminal justice agencies to exchange critical information, such as electronic fingerprinting and offender tracking numbers, to help identify those who threaten our safety and security,” said Healey. “We must move to unify and guide agencies in developing new technology that will enable us to better protect our citizens.

Today, most of the information exchanged between criminal justice agencies occurs when individuals initiate the transfer from one agency to another. Although most law enforcement agencies utilize electronic management systems, the sharing of information between them and the courts and corrections mainly takes place through hand delivery, fax or mail. Agencies are unable to store and collect valuable data because they do not have access to a unified system that provides efficient information sharing.

For example, 60 percent of all fingerprints are submitted electronically and entered into a system accessible to the State Police within 30 minutes and the FBI within two hours. But the remaining fingerprints are either hand-delivered or mailed, taking up to two weeks after an arrest for the information to be processed. As the case proceeds through the criminal justice system, the offender’s criminal history record may not include corresponding fingerprints.

Healey said the 19-member council will evaluate all current practices within the state’s criminal justice agencies. It will make recommendations for the development and implementation of a cost-effective integrated justice information system, which will include criminal offender record information and all other information relevant to sentencing, probation and community correction held by various agencies.

The council, which will be chaired by Public Safety Secretary Edward Flynn and co-chaired by Administration and Finance Secretary Eric Kriss, will consist of the Chief Justice of Administration and Management, the Attorney General, a sheriff, a district attorney, the Undersecretary for Forensic Services within the Executive Office of Public Safety, the Executive Director of the Criminal History Systems Board and the Chief Information Officer of the Commonwealth or their designees.

“In the post-9/11 world, we must eliminate the silos created by antiquated technology,” said Secretary Flynn. “This Executive Order enhances public safety by bringing our criminal information communication systems into the 21st century.”

The state’s Chief Information Officer Peter Quinn, who served as the co-chair of the Cross Agency Information Sharing sub-committee of the Governor’s Commission on Criminal Justice Innovation, added, “The Governor’s Commission explored best practices throughout the United States and came away with three critical success factors that are integral ingredients to ensure the necessary information is delivered to the correct party at the appropriate time.”

The Health and Human Services Secretary, the Probation Commissioner, the Corrections Commissioner, the Parole Board Chair, the Youth Services Commissioner, the State Police Superintendent, the Registrar of Motor Vehicles, the United States Attorney, the Boston Police Commissioner and a Massachusetts Police Chief or their designees will also serve as advisory, non-voting members of the council.

The council will meet at least once a month and submit a strategic plan to the Secretary Flynn within six months. The Secretary will then present a final plan to the Governor.
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