Local News

NC report: Offender tracking system successful in pilot testing

Posted January 13, 2011 4:09 p.m. EST
Updated January 13, 2011 4:27 p.m. EST

— A pilot program designed to help catch criminals is useful and working.

That’s according to the Office of State Controller, who released a report Thursday that found 99 percent of users of the Web-based information system CJLEADS (Criminal Justice Law Enforcement Automated Data Services) found the application improved their ability to get information about offenders.

Nintey-eight percent said it improved their ability to use information more effectively, and 97 percent said it was more efficient.

It even helped officers at the North Carolina State Fair in October find a registered sex offender and remove the individual from fairgrounds, the controller’s office said.

CJLEADS draws data from across the criminal justice system and presents the information to users in an easy-to-understand, interactive and customizable interface that allows them easier access to information they need to make informed decisions.

It also allows users to set up watch lists and receive notifications when specified offenders' records change. For example, probation-parole officers would be alerted if offenders they are tracking are charged with crimes anywhere in the state.

The system has been used in Wake County for the past year as part of a pilot program and was expanded in November to five other counties. It is scheduled to go statewide by 2012.

The state currently uses a 25-year-old computer information system that court officials have said can be inefficient, hard to understand and inaccessible to certain parts of the criminal justice system – meaning crucial information could be overlooked.

Administrators have cited as an example, the March 5, 2008, slaying of Eve Carson, a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill senior whom police say was kidnapped, robbed and shot to death in a neighborhood near campus.

The suspects in her slaying were repeat offenders whom the court system overlooked multiple times while they were on probation.

An investigation found that part of the reason they were overlooked was because there was no central information system for law enforcement officials to access and no efficient way of knowing when offenders on probation were charged with additional crimes.

Officials have said that there's no guarantee the slaying could have been prevented – even if the problems did not exist – but that, if information about the suspects were more readily available, it could have prompted officials to look more closely at them.

An electronic arrest warrant system called NCAWARE (North Carolina Arrest Warrant Repository) is already being used across the state to help authorities issue and track arrest warrants across jurisdictions.

Deployed in June 2008, the system also alerts probation-parole officers when an offender they are supervising is arrested or convicted and when a warrant or order for arrest is issued.