The Idaho Department of Correction (IDOC) is responsible for managing all offenders in Idaho. Offenders are housed in prisons and supervised on probation and parole. IDOC houses inmates in ten prisons and four community re–entry centers located in various locations. Probationers and parolees are supervised by probation and parole officers in District Offices throughout the state.
There were many challenges that the Idaho Department of Correction faced before implementing Laserfiche. Staff spent a lot of time tracking redundant information due to a lack of communication and cross-department transparency. Many of the staff members that requested a new solution were using spreadsheets or access databases to maintain data.
The staff explained that too much time was spent entering data manually and creating reports. Sharing the same file to enter data is difficult, often resulting in corrupt files. They had a difficult time gathering the required information; documents may be illegible and had to use a manual approval process. The paper would sit in stacks on desks for an extended time and often become lost or duplicated, not to mention the lack of accountability or confirmation of completed process tasks.
From providing a workflow to file Human Resource employee files to improving inefficient processes, The IDOC has many successful automation processes. Two of their earliest projects were Supervision Contact entries and Incident Reports.
The Solution: Supervision Contact
The agency looked for a way to save field probation and parole officers‘ time with Supervision Contact entries. This process forced officers to return to the office for manual data entry and resulted in required overtime. Before implementing an enterprise system, officers conducted monthly home visits and manually documented each visit on a notepad to later return to the office and enter the notes in the offender management system. The officer‘s notes are often misplaced or lost, causing much duress.
The IDOC created an electronic form to submit supervision contact notes from the field. The form requires an identifying number for the offender, populates the offender‘s name, and then the officer can enter relevant information like date, time, contact type, comments, etc. The comment field provides microphone functionality, which allows the officer to dictate notes and then submit. The officer receives an email of their dictation and notifying that their contact note was processed successfully in the offender management system. This new functionality has resulted in accurate entries that provide the courts with the visit’s exact dates and times.
The Solution: Incident Reports
Another successful process automation was their creation of a new electronic form that allowed their prison, probation, and parole officers to submit incidents and have reporting capability. Their previous process required extensive manual entry of each incident was not being entered timely, and reporting was inaccurate.
Now, once an officer submits an incident, the form and workflow provide the submitter’s information and offender‘s information from the management system data for accuracy from multiple SQL databases. Once the form is submitted, it is filed in the repository and emailed to a distribution list. They created an incident report workflow to email specific distribution lists as well as the officer‘s self-manage lists. Users can subscribe or unsubscribe to distribution lists using another electronic form, which automatically updates Active Directory membership groups.
The Solution: Background Information for Hiring
Anyone who works with the IDOC must pass a background check, involving multiple steps and interviews. Those directly employed by the agency and working directly with offenders require a rigorous investigation, while contractors may need a lighter check. But previously, everyone had to fill out the same 17-page, paper-based questionnaire. Duplicate information had to be recorded in multiple locations, wasting time and leaving room for human error.
The IDOC created a multi-step workflow for background checks within Laserfiche. After a preliminary interview, the interviewer makes a recommendation about whether the person should move forward in the process. If the applicant is accepted, the special background investigator team receives the information about the applicant. Laserfiche integrates with the investigator’s database through an API, and workflows send the applicant information automatically—no need for duplicate data entry. The applicant receives an email with a custom URL to a background investigation questionnaire with only the questions that are relevant to their position. It’s a win for everyone.
In the first four months of 2023, this complex workflow was used over 900 times.
The IDOC has improved multiple processes, including:
- constituent services community inquiries
- volunteer and mentor processes
- offender travel request
- cell phone reimbursement
- request for criminal records check
- account management system requests
- investigations and information requests
- IT procurement, medical authorization requests
With Laserfiche, the IDOC reduced time spent on menial tasks.
The staff has gained 10 hours per week by automating and digitizing the backgrounds process alone. Before, this process took hours a day to scan and preparing these background packets.
Officers have saved four to eight hours per month, allowing them to complete more work out in the field serving their community. Currently, the department has 59 security staff using Laserfiche, saving them, on average, 1400 hours and $82,600.00 in labor cost per year.
By automating simple processes first, the IDOC was able to get buy–in from leadership. With that support, they have implemented several Laserfiche processes, such as managers, to approve a phased approach for successes and then the expansion of processes.
In the future, the IDOC plans to expand the automation of their HR on boarding to ensure the right information is submitted timely and in the right order, which lessens error, reducing overall staff efforts, and maintain data consistency between departments.