CDCR converts 170,000 inmate paper files, 2 million documents converted to digital

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) recently successfully completed a historic milestone – converting 170,000 paper inmate files consisting of more than 200 million images into electronic files. Now all the records are instantaneously and widely available, throughout the CDCR system. CDCR projects significant cost savings and efficiency improvement.

Previously, it took as long as three days for staff to access the inmates files. Because the information existed only in the paper files, CDCR personnel could only review the files one person at a time. File reviews were complicated by the fact CDCR has more than 30 institutions and offices scattered across California.

CDCR’s Strategic Offender Management System (SOMS) project completed the conversion of active inmates’ central files (C-Files) from paper to individual viewable electronic images in April, 2014. The files are viewable in the SOMS Electronic Records Management System (ERMS).  The scanning began in February 2013.

“With the implementation of ERMS, CDCR has completed not only a significant technology effort, but has also affected a very significant change management effort.  Policies and practices that had served CDCR for many years were updated and changed and staff from all areas of CDCR transitioned to a new a different model.” Russ Nichols, SOMS Project Director

The inmate C-File is a critical information source for CDCR operations. Prior to the completion of the scanning process, CDCR staff had to either physically go to a records office within the institution to access a C-File or they had to order the C-File if it was not locally available in the institution.  There could sometimes be a wait of up to 3 business days to receive the file.  Determining who had possession of a file, and waiting for your turn to review a C-File, were all inefficiencies of the paper process.  The ERMS system alleviates all of these inefficiencies.

Any CDCR staff member with the appropriate authorization has access to the electronic version of the C-Files from their computer anywhere in the state. These files may also be viewed simultaneously by multiple staff members.  This accomplishment not only makes the process of file review faster and more efficient, but also increases officer and inmate safety by allowing access to critical information instantaneously.

“ERMS is an example of utilizing a technology platform to transform a business process to increase both efficiency and effectiveness.  With this implementation, technology becomes a significant mission critical tool embedded in the business processes of CDCR.” Joe Panora, Director Enterprise Information Services

By scanning all the C-Files, CDCR is already seeing many process and financial benefits.  The elimination of: C-File transportation delays and costs, the need to purchase C-File folders, storage facilities, and travel for staff to endorse cases as the inmate’s C-Files/cases can be reviewed online from anywhere in the state.

“I’ve been in the Case Records business for over 32 years with lots of hands on experience of working with a paper C-File,” said  Deloris Paschal, Chief Correctional Case Records Services.  “I remember the days of pulling C-Files for committees, hearings, special projects, transfers, etc.  Of course it was not uncommon to misplace files, resulting in a ‘C-File search’ that required all records staff to stop what they were working on until the missing files were located.

“Now that the scanning of the men’s files into ERMS is complete, most tasks associated with the paper C-File are eliminated,” she said. “There are so many efficiencies gained with the electronic record.

“For example, one of the many duties of a Case Records Office, including my office, is to respond to inquiries from law enforcement agencies, Courts, the Attorney General’s office as well as other state or federal agencies,” she said. ” The electronic file provides me the ability to access the inmate’s file directly from my desktop computer.

“The benefit of this feature is there is no longer a need to disrupt the field record offices when responding to the inquiry and the information can be provided to the requestor without delay which is a great time savings for all parties involved,”  she said.