County jail gets first look at system

Published 7:54 pm Friday, March 26, 2010

The Pike County Sheriff’s Department has been selected as the first in the state to test a new jail management system that will eventually link all information throughout Alabama’s jails.

The program, created by the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center, is something Sheriff Russell Thomas said would be extremely beneficial in keeping track of inmates and even in investigations.

Locally, the Pike County Jail will now have its inmate information systems consolidated into one, where Thomas said at one point in time the jail kept track of information and ID pictures in separate files.

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In the bigger picture, the system will make tracking easier in jails across the state.

For instance, if an inmate is admitted into the county jail and later transferred to a state prison, the information isn’t linked.

“We’ve been losing a tremendous amount of information and intelligence not collecting information through jails,” Thomas said. “Several of these counties see 100,000 people in and out of the jails, and they weren’t capturing the information.”

Thomas was a former member of the ACJIS Board, and he said this type of system is something he advocated at that time.

“I was in need of a jail program at that time and didn’t want to spend $50,000 of county money, where the state could create a program,” he said.

Now, Thomas said the system is coming to Pike County at no cost.

Deputy Sgt. Sam Mallory, who has been working to get the system running in Pike County, said this will enable the department to pull all information on an individual through the licensing and ID databases.

“You will be able to see if someone is sentenced in your jail and waiting to be sentenced at another jail,” Mallory said.

Thomas said prior to this system, if Pike County was looking to see if a particular person was in another jail, they’d have to call each county or state prison separately.

This system hopes to change that.

Thomas said the system would also include information about distinct marks, scars or tattoos an individual has.

Lynn Childs, public information manager for ACJIS, said the goal to implement this program statewide is by Aug. 1.

“Right now it’s a product we are developing,” Childs said. “Pike County is using it to test.”

When the program goes statewide, she said there will be some type of fee for its use, but that amount has not been determined at this time.