Leaders call for upgrading outmoded criminal filing system

July 5, 2011

By Staff

King County Council members last month introduced legislation to upgrade criminal justice technology, including the outdated mainframe computer used by the King County Prosecutor’s Office.

“What do buying lattes at Starbucks, the Apple Macintosh, ‘The Cosby Show’ and the data system used by the prosecutor’s pffice all have in common? They were all introduced in 1984,” Councilman Bob Ferguson, chairman of the council’s Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee, said in a news release. “We heard in committee about the importance of updating PROMIS, which will have a positive impact on our entire criminal justice system and help us do more with less.”

The county budget required cuts in the criminal justice system in order to close a $60 million shortfall. In the budget, the council set aside a $1.5 million criminal justice reserve.

The estimate to begin replacing PROMIS is $1.5 million — less than the previous price tag of more than $3 million.

The system — Prosecutor Management Information System, or PROMIS — is 27 years old and prosecutors’ primary case-management system for criminal filings.

Since PROMIS debuted in 1984, the Prosecutor’s Office’s criminal caseload has tripled from about 3,700 filings per year to more than 10,000. PROMIS does not meet modern law practice standards and is unable to store and share records electronically.

“PROMIS provides no useable data for me as a manager regarding how to deploy our scarce resources effectively, and it is functionally inadequate for the efficient operation of a modern law practice,” King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said in a news release. “We are operating in the 1980s from a technology standpoint. It is like our office is playing ‘Pong’ while the rest of the world has moved on to Xbox.”

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