The Pretrial Services Agency for the District of Columbia (PSA) is among the oldest pretrial agencies in the nation. PSA’s comprehensive database houses more than 35 years of automated data and has become a trusted source for data to the region’s criminal justice partners. Nearly a dozen local and federal law enforcement agencies log into PSA’s Pretrial Real-time Information System Manager (PRISM) to conduct searches to augment their data systems. PRISM is an Agency-wide case management system developed to provide reliable information to improve the timeliness and quality of decisions relating to the bail recommendations, supervision and treatment of defendants who enter the criminal justice system in the District.
PSA began its automation of operations in 1977 with the introduction of the Automated Bail Agency Database, or ABADABA. In 1992, the Agency added a second system – the Drug Testing Management System (DTMS) – to automate the collection and processing of urine samples for PSA’s on-site drug testing laboratory and to augment case tracking and management of defendants under pretrial supervision. Since PSA’s high-speed drug testing analyzer contained both a communications port and a built-in barcode reader, DTMS could track each step of the process with a paperless barcoded control system, replacing the labor-intensive manual logs and hand-written notations. Improved case management features allowed access to drug testing and defendant reporting by PSA staff and the judiciary, providing a detailed chronological record of the defendants’ progress in treatment and supervision.
The case management functionality of ABADABA and DTMS eventually was replaced in 2002 by PRISM, which provides clean and accurate data that is synchronized with other agencies. DTMS continues to handle the Agency’s drug testing information. PRISM is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week with virtually no down time and makes use of proven technologies, utilizing the same technology as the World Wide Web. Only about one quarter of pretrial programs nationally have a web-based internet information system. PRISM has proven to be successful in supporting the Agency and improving reliability, timeliness, and quality of data throughout the justice community.