How Does OJBC Benefit the Justice Community?

OJBC promotes a more effective and efficient justice system through improved sharing of information and automation of business processes.  The Consortium seeks to accomplish this by lowering the barriers to entry, and by creating a way for jurisdictions to reuse what others have done at very low cost.  The OJBC also wants to ensure that further usage and expansion of the OJB software is also shared back with the community, so that the entire nation can benefit from new capabilities.  Open source licensing helps to accomplish all of these aims (see below).

The OJBC also seeks to accelerate justice information sharing by enabling government agencies—and industry partners—to leverage a common platform for building information exchanges. The Consortium believes that the nation will be better off investing resources in building exchanges rather than re-inventing and re-building core infrastructure components that could easily be shared.

OJBC’s approach and philosophy emphasizes collaboration, sharing of information exchanges, reuse of capabilities, and industry standards. Read to learn more, and to find out how Consortium members have successfully implemented exchanges in their states.

Open Source License

The core Open Justice Broker functionality is licensed as open source, which means that all licensees

  • can access all core OJB components—such as federated query, subscription/notification, event reporting, and more—at no cost.
  • may modify these—as long as the modifications are shared back with the community via the OJBC.
  • may redistribute their modifications—as long as the modified source code is made available under the open source license.

Licensees do not have to become members of the OJB Consortium to access the OJB source code—but membership conveys additional valuable benefits. Learn more

Collaborate/Reuse/Share

The OJBC approach embraces a collaborative approach to information sharing:

  • Jurisdictions may reuse the capabilities already on the OJB platform, and customize them as needed.
  • Jurisdictions may contribute exchanges from their own projects for reuse or enhancement by others.
  • Any future expansion of the OJB software—whether by OJBC members or others—is shared back with the community. In this way—
    • all OJB users contribute to the evolution of the OJB platform
    • the entire nation can benefit from new capabilities designed on the OJB platform
    • OJBC supports the advancement of justice information sharing through collaborative reuse of low-cost technology.

Industry Standards-Based

A core OJBC philosophy is to develop solutions that incorporate industry and justice standards, which enable linkage of disparate justice systems—from law enforcement records systems, to prosecution and court case management systems, to corrections information systems, and beyond. The OJBC:

  • Seeks to eliminate the need for each state, local, or tribal jurisdiction to start from scratch to identify justice information exchanges
  • Supports effective security and privacy practices, leveraging the Global Federated Identity and Privilege Management (GFIPM) guidelines, and the Global privacy guidelines
  • Implements core integration features, such as subscription/notification and federated query capabilities
  • Implements information exchanges in conformance with national and industry standards, such as:

All OJB components implement GRA-conformant service specifications. Each service leverages the NIEM as its information model. Where GRA reference service specifications exist, the OJB has leveraged them to the extent practicable.  OJB also secures its federated query components with an approach that conforms to the GFIPM user-to-system and system-to-system profiles.

Successes in the Field

Hawaii: Subscription/Notification for Probation/Parole

Through the OJB platform, Hawaii Integrated Justice Information Sharing (HIJIS) program offers an automatic Subscription/Notification service that provides probation/parole officers in the state with immediate electronic notifications when their clients are arrested. In the past, officers would wait to receive daily arrest reports, which they needed to review and subdivide by multiple supervision levels—a process which delayed notification of a client’s arrest and made it more difficult to keep the community safer from repeat offenders.  Now, with real-time arrest notifications, probation/parole officers are able to use this information to take quicker and more decisive action, which increases public safety.

Practitioners in the field report offered their feedback to HIJIS:

“The subscription/notification service has been helpful not only in informing the parole officer of new arrests and checking if defendants are calling in to report them, (but) it also has been helpful for the parole officers whose cases are in ‘bench warrant’ status. The notification gives the parole officer a head’s up to prepare the Violation Reports, as there will be subsequent hearings.”
“The notifications assist the probation officers to monitor which offenders get rearrested, especially ones in which the bench warrant has been issued. This allows for probation supervision to be reinstated and the offender monitored, with possible court sanctions for violating conditions of probation. The impact created by the HIJIS notifications adds to a safer community and safety for the public.”
“The HIJIS notifications have been especially useful in situations where a client fails to disclose recent police activity or contact. Having this information also aids in proper investigation and research for requesting police reports or as informative data for frequency of rearrests, as it is nearly impossible to audit every case in CJIS to verify any new arrest.”
“The drug court has been using the HIJIS notifications to decrease the notification time to defense counsel and deputy prosecuting attorneys (DPA). In the past, these attorneys would have to wait to get reports from the Court or other sources. Now, they get same-day information because I am able to notify them of the arrest on the day I get the HIJIS notification. The drug court also uses the HIJIS notification to start our ‘court report process.’ HIJIS notification means we can do the probation officer’s Declaration to the Court within two days of arrest, and the DPA can file her documents for the violation within a week. In the past, this paperwork would have taken twice as long.”

Maine: Subscription/Notification for Probation/Parole

The State of Maine used the OJB platform to implement automated subscription/notification services for probation and parole officers.  The service allows probation and parole officers to automatically subscribe to receive notifications when their probationers and parolees are arrested.  Without such a capability, these officers do not have a reliable way to learn if their probationers and parolees are reoffending while on supervised release.

Practitioners in the field report finding a lot of value in this new capability, and offered their feedback to the Maine State Police:

“The link to the ATN/CTN [arrest tracking number and case tracking number] seems to be working great. The lag is minimal and it is a fantastic resource.”
“I have had great success with this—in one case, I was made aware that one of my probationers had overdosed and the [arresting police department] was going to be charging him with possession.”
“I had a female who I had a warrant on for over 2 years, [and I] got the ATN notification that Portland PD had her. I was able to talk to the arresting officer as he was charging her.”
“I had a guy get arrested by Westbrook PD and the probationer did not tell them he was on probation. He probably would have slipped through if I had not gotten the notification. Instead, I was able to hold the guy, who was on a tear with his addiction, which probably would have led to him committing [more] crimes to further fuel his addiction.”

Vermont: Subscription/Notification for Probation/Parole

Vermont also used the OJB platform to implement automated subscription/notification services for probation and parole officers.  The service allows these officers to automatically subscribe to receive notifications any time their probationer or parolee is involved in an incident—whether as a suspect, witness, victim, etc.  This capability provides these officers with quick intelligence regarding the current activity of their probationers and parolees while on supervised release.

According to the Vermont Department of Corrections, users of the email Incident Notification system supervise the following types of offenders:

  • Domestic offenders: 23%
  • Sex offenders: 15%
  • Other high risk offenders: 15%
  • Low-risk offenders: 23%
  • Other role: 25%

The most common role the probationer or parolee plays in the incident notification? Most often as offender (51%) or person of interest (33%).

Nearly 80% of Incident Notification System users say it has been of benefit to the supervision of their caseloads.  Another 15% were undecided (generally supervisors or district managers who do not carry a caseload).  Users of the Incident Notification System were asked to explain how it has benefited their work. They responded as follows:

  • 28% Learning of new behavior not being reported by offenders
  • 22% Greater information as to the lives of offenders
  • 11%  Increased law enforcement contact disclosure by offenders
  • 39%  Other (e.g., parole/probation offers are aware of offender events due to the notification, even if they do not receive a call from law enforcement about a serious violation, and supervisors can see the behaviors of the offenders and staff handling of situations)

Practitioners in the field report offered their feedback as follows:

“Essentially it has given me insight into relationships when there are many domestic arguments going on, yet the offender is saying things are just fine, or when a person keeps coming up as a passenger in vehicles where the driver is a drug dealer, or when I see that someone on my caseload is being the complainant in cases which he never would have done before due to his pro-criminal code.”
“This system has helped our office keep in contact and know what their offenders are doing.”
“If an offender is off the wagon and not reporting it to their (probation officer), we are able to get them back on track quicker when we knew the information in a timely manner.”
“Several times I have had offenders doing the ‘right thing’ and reporting criminal acts when I may not have ever known.”

Use Cases

  • Streamlined Federated Query: The State of Hawaii uses this capability to provide practitioners with one-click access to warrant, criminal history information, and firearms registrations. Vermont uses this capability to provide access to information in disparate law enforcement records management systems. Both members have plans to expand searches to additional data sources across the justice system.
  • Real-time Subscription/Notification: The State of Hawaii is using this capability to create subscriptions for re-arrest of probationers and parolees, while Vermont is creating subscriptions for incidents involving probationers and parolees. These subscriptions are generated automatically out of probation and parole case management systems, and the notifications are delivered to officers in real-time via email, allowing them to coordinate with law enforcement and take other appropriate action immediately.
  • System Interfaces to Trigger Subscriptions/Notifications: For example, an interface to a probation case management system can create a subscription when a new case is added. In this way, a probation officer can be notified if his supervised individuals have further law enforcement contact or are re-arrested.
  • Web Portal (browser-based Interface): The States of Hawaii and Vermont use the portal to enable federated queries of criminal history records, warrants, incident reports, and firearm registrations. Both states are also taking advantage of the portal’s federated identity management capability to control user access and provide users with single sign-on capabilities. Both are also developing a manual subscription capability that will allow authorized practitioners to create and manage subscriptions via the portal.
  • Security and Single Sign-on: The States of Hawaii and Vermont are leveraging this capability to secure their federated query and manual subscription implementations.
  • Event Reporting: In the State of Maine, where this capability was first implemented, county jurisdictions are experiencing significant savings by eliminating duplicate data entry. Vermont is using the OJB event reporting service to populate a crime mapping application with up-to-date incident information. It notifies probation and parole officers of incidents involving supervisees, and informs mental health treatment providers of incidents resulting in arrests so they can make better treatment decisions.
  • Data Analytics: Under a grant from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, OJBC is developing justice analytics tools on the OJB platform and pilot the tools in three jurisdictions.  In the first project phase, this new capability will support Vermont’s implementation of a statewide pretrial services program, and assist its effort to combat drug-related crime. It will accomplish this by developing and implementing “dashboards” that make key performance measures available to policymakers and operational managers. It will also provide valuable general-purpose statistical analysis tools to justice practitioners and policymakers, who will be better equipped to leverage the power of operational justice data flowing across the OJB in making strategic decisions about the delivery of justice services in the state.  In the second project phase, the OJBC will engage two new government jurisdictions (at the state, local, or tribal level) as Consortium members, and will develop additional analytical dashboards and performance measures to support justice initiatives in these jurisdictions.

Testimonials

Both the Open Justice Broker Consortium and the Hawaii Integrated Justice Information System (HIJIS) are creating tools to help state, local, and tribal governments share information between justice agencies. This creates a powerful collaboration, which allows HIJIS to accomplish its mission by leveraging the Consortium’s resources, and furthers the mission of both organizations.
David M. Louie: Attorney General State of Hawaii
The Open Justice Broker Consortium is the ultimate example of information sharing. At the state level we are developing information exchanges that are being reused by other state agencies for a fraction of the cost of creating new ones. The OJBC pushes this sharing of resources to the national level. Criminal justice agencies all have the need to share the same information. It just doesn’t make any sense for agencies to build what has already been built.
Col. Robert Williams: Maine State Police
The OJBC offers a very low-cost way of acquiring and using technology. For $85,000 per year, the State is able to implement critical justice information exchanges—at less than a quarter of the cost of comparable proprietary commercial solutions.
Liane Moriyama, Administrator: Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center
Ordinarily with projects of this sort, the State Police would have developed their N-DEx records submission project and the Maine Prosecutors’ Association would have developed a solution to pull incident records from law enforcement agencies around the state—and both efforts would have been separate, standalone efforts. Now, by reusing the architecture and infrastructure (via the OJB), we can bring those efforts together, hold down the cost, and eliminate duplicate work. Local law enforcement agencies are not burdened with building and maintaining multiple interfaces—they can have a single point of origin with multiple end points. This approach avoids the silo implementations.
Col. Robert Williams: Maine State Police
Vermont worked closely with OJBC staff to customize the federated queries available via the VJISS web portal. VJISS users statewide will be able to submit queries for incident data from a single, secure location. The solution is effective and efficient: Users execute a single search, get results from one or more incidents, and view detailed data on a particular incident: persons, vehicles, property, charges, and so on. Police in our state benefit by having reliable, up-to-date information to support critical decision-making. The benefit of being part of the OJBC is that it is scalable—we can easily develop and build information sharing solutions to meet our future needs.
Francis X. Aumand III, Deputy Commissioner: Vermont Department of Public Safety
By joining the OJBC, Michigan will be able to effectively and efficiently develop a system that enables stakeholders to electronically request, authorize, issue, and serve an arrest warrant. It will also provide the ability to submit a federated query against various warrant repositories. The end goal is to automate and streamline warrant processes for law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and court personnel across the state. The value to Michigan of joining the OJBC is that we do not need to build our solution from scratch. It allows us to control costs by leveraging open source software and reusing technologies that other consortium members have developed and successfully implemented.
Ms. Katie Bower, Assistant Director: Criminal Justice Information Center Michigan State Police