Title : Prison Management System (PRISMS)

Description

The overall objective of PRISMS was to scale up prison governance by ensuring a transparent, user friendly, problem solving, and friendly and trustworthy prison management system across Goa.

Client Name : Govt. of Madhya Pradesh

Client Type : Case Studies

Start Date : 1st May, 2009

End Date : 1st January, 2010

Abstract

The Prisons Management Systems (PRISMS), a landmark e-governance initiative of Goa government has not only been pioneering but also influential in many such initiatives in other states as far as automation and efficiency of Prisons management is concerned. PRISMS is an effective ICT-enabled prison administration and management system with the objective of providing an easy effective and efficient mechanism benefiting the prisoners and the concerned prison department. This case study aims to bring forth the importance of Government Process reengineering (GPR) in the context of implementing ICT systems and the resultant benefits to stakeholders.

The period prior to implementation of PRISMS was marked by multiple complexities and hurdles including manual based time consuming process, human errors, insufficient security due to time consuming record keeping, difficulty in managing visitors, faulty calculation of correct remission and release dates, delay in application process, negligence of records and so on. The shortcomings fostered corrupt and inefficient administration and compromised constitutional rights of prisoners and the rule of law.

Post PRISMS, implementation has weeded out key limitations of prisons management in Goa resulting in drastic improvements in prison administration and in the lives of the prisoners. Whereas PRISMS has emerged as a source of tremendous positive change among the stakeholders, it has also established its sustainability on the basis of being cost-effective.

However, PRISMS has had its own share of challenges and limitations; for example, difficulty in motivating the staff in the new system, system design and deployment with 23 diverse modules, network building, and ensuring system foolproof and monitoring.
The objective of the case study is to analyze PRISMS, implemented in jails and judicial lock-ups all over Goa by the Office of the Inspector General of Prisons. The analysis is divided into 5 major sections and focuses on a detailed analysis of the pre-implementation state of the project, the current status with respect to the proper functioning and benefits provided by the system, challenges and lessons learnt during the implementation phase. In terms of methodology, secondary as well as primary data was collected, including interviews of representative stakeholders, namely the office of the Inspector General of Prisons, GEL – the agency that designed and implemented the solution, the prison management staff, and the officers working with the system as well as the prisoners. The findings arrived through this case study point towards the positive impact of e-governance programs with regard to integrated and holistic prison management.

Keywords

PRISMS, prison management, e-governance, web-based application, efficient administration, parole, compensation, Goa Electronics Limited, ICTD, Smart Government, India, Automation, GPR.

Project Background

Prison management is a daunting task and especially when the numbers are too high to handle, resources are minimal to manage and there is lack of trained manpower to manage pressures and crisis situations. In case of Goa, two major set of challenges were identified in relation to prison affairs management. One challenge was from the prison administration perspective. The manual prison administration was plagued by ills of a traditional administrative and management structure. These included  time consumption process, human errors in administering records and registers of prison inmates, and management hurdles in compilation and analysis of data due to lack of data and information accuracy. For example, the manual visitor’s management could not track photographs of visitors, fingerprints taken were not recorded, difficulty to track the previous convictions of the inmates with regard to other trials pending and so on. Remission, release and bail calculations were extremely time consuming and prone to data and information errors. Human errors in information and data management amounted to 40 % to 50 % of total defaults. Overall, the impact from these was no less disturbing. Sharing of accurate data and information within the department and other stakeholders was a problem. Right decisions at right time could not be taken when needed. The challenge was “rule of law” could not be successfully implemented.

The bigger challenge was in record management of no less than 23 activity functions related to prison and prisoners. These included areas like prisoners information, court related information, remission management, prisoner admission and release, detention of under-trials, prisoners work allotment and monitoring, prisoners medical management, victim compensation, parole and furlough management, prison reforms, and so on. The manual system had failed to keep timely, updated records of all these activities. There was negligence, worn out and casual attitude in managing records in all these critical areas.

The other set of challenge was from the prisoners’ perspective. This has to do with uneasiness and insecurity in the minds of the prisoners related to appropriate justice by the system in various aspects including parole, remission, release, emoluments etc. The old structure and functions led prisoners to view strongly that the system “was all about fraud and malpractices.” The perception among life convict prisoners, which accounts to 10-15 % of total, was that they would never be released from jail though prisoners sentenced for life do have the right to be considered for release after a period of 14 years of prison term. The reason blamed for this was lack of accurate information and record.

management of remission calculations. Further, insecurity was related to wages earned by the prisoners. Prisoners felt they were left in the dark on the money they have earned and felt “cheated” by prison officials.

Challenges

  • Time consuming process
  • Human errors in administrative records and registers of prison inmates
  • Management hurdles in compilation and analysis of data
  • Information inaccuracy

The problem was also related to parole. There was delay in parole which was due to lack of efficient record management and an alert system that failed to keep dates with court hearing and resultant release of prisoners. One pathological impact was applications would be kept pending for more than a year. The parole surrender days were often forgotten within the manual system. There had been situations wherein the administration “only after month realized that the guy has run away”. In addition, during the pre implementation period the victim compensation fund was not implemented and “nobody knew about the rules”. The poor management and operational system under the traditional framework also had problems in managing court cases, health status, under trial detention, prisoner work allotment and monitoring, prisoners’ movement, and so on. All these happened due to the acute absence of a transparent information and communication system that connects the front end with the backend processes of prison management.

Project Description

According to the Times of India “Goa does not have a prison on the lines of a modern structure”, however, the Goa Prisons Department proved the statement wrong by launching the initiative, Prison Management System (PRISMS) in 2008 and received the e-governance award for excellence on many platforms. Within the layout of a modern day needs and problem solving using ICTs, the office of the Goa Inspector General of Prisons decided to develop and deploy a one stop solution to all the problems related to prison management. The core idea is to “streamline the administration and make it efficient to serve not only jail authorities but also prisoners” (Times of India 2009).

From the inception the management wanted the development of the software to be inclusive, involving the prison officers in the process of software development, since “it is people who shall make the difference”.

In the process, Goa became the first state in India, which has opted for a centralized jail monitoring system covering the entire state. The system, according to Goa Electronics Limited (GEL), the company which developed the software for the project, has installed “networks in all five jails in Goa and is additionally supported by video conferencing facilities between the jails”. It provides real-time information on all aspects of jail management including “inmate personal property, visitor activity, mental and medical health information, inmate movement in and out the facility, case and crime information, remission, parole, and furlough”.

PRISMS, launched in May 2008, completed in February 2009 is envisaged to guarantee the effective implementation of the “3 aspects of prison administration” which involve catering to the optimal management of the prisoners by the jail authorities while maintaining and maximizing the existing security standards within the facilities in accordance with the Prison Act of 1900 and the Goa Prison Rules and the Prison Manual of 2006.

The three-tier PRISMS architecture is designed as a centralized data base and application, with real time operation at the point of 100% implementation across all jails, judicial lockups and prison departments. It is hosted by the National Informatics Centre (NIC) data centre with coverage aimed at a 24/7 availability in all government offices, jails and judicial lockups connected through the Goa-net and accessible to all government employees through individual access. PRISMS operate as a module based system with touch screen kiosks which are easily accessible to prisoners. The technology consisting of hardware, software and platform elements is implemented at Central Jail Aguada, Sub Jail Sada, Judicial Lockup Mapusa and the Inspector General of Prisons Office in Panaji.

Efforts went into technology design and implementation. The software, implemented for example, automatically calculates the probable date of release of prisoners with details of the remission earned. It also calculates wages, attendance and remittance towards the common victim compensation fund, expenditure for legal services, savings and day-to-day expenses. The application aims at ensuring a user friendly design with the goal to facilitate system wide integration to increase efficiency and ensuring uniform services. It seeks to avoid redundant data entry using the framework of a modular design to cater to the specific needs of each agency whereby the software is configurable for an unlimited number of users.

Objectives

The overall objective of PRISMS was to scale up prison governance by ensuring a transparent, user friendly, problem solving, and friendly and trustworthy prison management system across Goa.

Otherwise, the PRISMS practice was initiated with the following key objectives:

  • To deliver a fully functional system that delivers close to 100% efficiency in prisons management in Goa using ICTs; that delivers holistic functionalities in covering all aspects of prison management from the admission to the release of the prisoner and connectivity across jails; brings in administrative efficiency and security; leads to prisoner empowerment and victim compensation; increases efficiency of prison management process and administrational stuff; improves administrational functionality of Inspector General of Prison’s Department.
  • To bring in transparency and efficiency in an otherwise secrecy driven system; the use of technology is supposed to bring about transparency in the system and foster the process of precise implementation of rules and laws, make data easily available to the authorities concerned, and to facilitate efficient and accurate decision making through improvised information and communication flow.
  • To bring in maximum accuracy in the prison management in all key functional and operational areas; to overcome the manual system in the process of remission that revolves around numbers, figures, mathematicsand calculations that have to be very accurate; to an application which supports the jail staff working in the prisons with efficient record keeping and make the work profile of staff much easier and smooth in day-to-day administrative work.

Stakeholders

The stakeholders of the project are the prisons department, the collector and inspector general of prisons to implement the project, Goa Electronics Limited (GEL) which developed the software for this project, the Goa State department of IT (all ICT initiatives in the state are driven by), the jails and judicial lockup facilities, police departments and the prisoners.

Office of the Inspector General of Prisons, Goa

Project ideation, implementation, overall management, monitoring, course correction, upgradation

Goa Electronics Limited

Design and implementation of the system and day-to-day management and course correction

Goa State Dept of IT

Overall project support

Jails & Judicial Lock up Facilities

Spoke agencies using the system for the end users – prisoners

Police Departments

Users and managers of the system

Prisoners

End users and beneficiaries

 

Services Offered

 

The PRISMS practice offers the following vital services to its stakeholders:

  • The PRISMS centralized database-3 tier-web based system within the framework of its 23 functional modules and 2 MBPS connectivity across all 6 jails and judicial lockups is providing a holistic understanding and 100% coverage of all prisoner related processes across all jails and levels of prison administration. This has fostered capacity building with a focus on e-Governance and better manpower utilization in all prison and judicial facilities in the state of Goa.
  • The 23 module system is supporting the duties and responsibilities of the executive and clerical staff with regard to all aspects of prisoner information management consisting of personal information of the inmate such as registration number, nationality, age and height, biometric identification, photographs, marks of identity, and employment status.
  • PRISMS is providing high security standards. For example, it is supported  by application of the prisoner movement module recording in and out of jail inmate tracking related to parole, furlough, case hearing or medical reasons; second, the gate management module is keeping track of the exact  date, hour and even minute of the opening or closing of all prison gates accounting for all person’s entering or leaving and; third, the computerized escape and escort management involves the  maintenance of an escape register, the automated selection of escort in connection with keeping account of actual escort details.
  •  The new system is providing high end security through the transmission of information via SMS to prison department officials and the police as well as the media in case of escape of prisoners. It has helped to strengthen the externalities with regard to the strengthening of the security framework of prisons in Goa through effective visitor information management system. This also includes victim information management notifying all inmate activity of prisoners like court appearance, release and execution, furlough or parole.
  • PRISMS provide administrative support to victims. For instance, the victim is granted administrative support by the prisoner work allotment and monitoring module. This module controls wages by labor allocated in accordance with the Victim’s Compensation Fund to which 50% of the earnings will be allocated while the rest of the earning gets automatically transferred to joint saving accounts (15%), legal aid (20%) as well as personal expenses. Further, the speedy and smooth judicial and administrative functioning is provided externally by the court information module which keeps track of details such as the court in charge, the authority concerned, parties involved, court hearings and crime and charge sheet information. This gets internally supported by the prisoner management module which administers transfers such as handovers in specific records. Also, there is the commissary (canteen) management entity which supports the maintenance of commissary stock items on timely basis as well as tracking purchases by inmates and automatically adjusts both the commissary stock and the inmate PPC account.

  • PRISMS provide for the personal well being within the framework of the rule of law, constitutional provisions as well as basic human rights which are all monitored. For instance, the parole and furlough management system keeps a complete history of all approved and rejected applications and orders as well as a list of the prisoners expected to surrender after parole and furlough; and second, by the bail management module, which safeguards a prevention of release if other cases are pending to be bailed, lists of all prisoners released on bail, surety bond bails as well as the tracking of all return dates in case of interim bail.
  • The well being of the inmate is further supported by effective prisoner’s medical management which captures the complete medical history of a prisoner and activities therein. Further, the inmate property and cash management module provides the Goa prison authorities with the ability to look after personal items and clothing of a prisoner as well as the maintenance of inmate cash account such as wages earned and credited according to the work’s module.
  • The new system has opened windows of information for prisoners. The touch screen kiosk management available to the prisoners guarantees easy access to the inmates to all personal property or account related information and secures access to grievance redressal within the administrative structure.

Outcome & Benefit of PRISMS

The PRISMS practice has entailed the following desirable outcome & benefits:

  • The new system has immense support for the prison administration. The system has facilitated to provide and receive factually correct, accurate, and timely data and information and got rid of time consuming and errors prone records and registers of prison related activities. It has been providing an easy-to-use and timely delivery of information through real time operation of the system for as many as 23 prison functions or activities. The system has supported the work of the police department by providing access to all information related to prisoners as well as their visitors and relatives. It is guaranteeing timely administration due to the option of the Fast track Module as well as through the advantage of making use of the tightly integrated system with auto data posting between modules. This is avoiding redundant data entry and management and facilitating natural data flow without unnecessary repetition. It has resulted into reduction of paper work, fostering speedy and efficient work processes with accuracy, and error free release of data calculation.
  • Overall, PRISMS “it’s not just computerization but complete automation and an intelligent system which calculates the sentences, remission, release dates automatically and without human errors”. The new system is actively providing support to the transformation of the state prison system towards modern administration. It has helped in taking right decisions at the right time. It has fostered the process of more transparency within the system through the above described services.
  • Records management became easier now after the introduction of PRISMS. The 23 prison activity-functions based modules developed under PRISMS have helped to streamline and manage efficiently all these major activities. For instance, the prisoners’ reforms module has helped to generate a complete history sheet of all reform activities undergone by the prisoner including creative activities such as painting, singing and work activities like furniture, candle and bag making. The prisoners’ medical management module is helping to keep records of the medical history of the prisoner, history of medication, health status and so on. The new system has provided much relief to the prisoners. The touch screen kiosk is providing information outlet for prisoners including information on remission earned, prisoners’ property and cash details, parole/furlough application status, transfer application Status and other benefits. The new system has provided benefits to the prisoners through a  “transparent and humane approach to prisoner empowerment” which is safeguarded through the accurate and fast calculation of Prisoner Data Report (PDR), instant information on wages earned and prisoners personal cash (PPC) as well as the accurate information of status of parole, furlough, bail and transfer applications. For instance, the Under-trial Detention Alarm System allows prisoners to avail benefits of section 436/436 A. This system generates report of under trial cases eligible for appeal of bail under section 436/436A.  
  • The high value of the system was confirmed by feedback collected from jail staff, prisoners and victims during the study. The prison authorities confirmed the “relief from tedious paperwork” saving a “great deal of work”. It is further pointed out that “some prisoners have been released on bail who has been found eligible for bail under section 436a through our system”. Victims interviewed stated that compensation has been granted to them through the victim compensation fund.

Benefits

  • Code Masters provides uniform data entry and validation
  • Prisoner identification based on finger impression
  • Helps faster analysis and reporting
  • Centralized Database with 3 Tier Architecture
  • Instant generation of court diary for each prisoner
  • Expenditure Limit fixed on PPC by system
  • Work, Remission and PPC includes Fast Track Module
  • Accurate and Fast Calculation of PDR
  • Instant information on wages earned & PPC
  • Accurate Information of Status of Parole/Furlough/ Transfer application
  • Detention Alarm System
  • Reformative history of prisoners maintained
  • Enables regular monitoring of the Victim Compensation fund
  • Facilitates tracking of the victim
  • Details of all disbursals maintained

Issues and challenges faced during implementation

The deployment and implementation of PRISMS had its own share of challenges and issues. The following highlights the implementation strategy as well as challenges during project implementation

Implementation strategy / methodology

The challenge for PRISMS was in gap areas assessment, e-readiness assessment, technology infrastructure requirements, and risk assessments in implementation. The task was clearly identified in terms of setting a strategic vision and direction to the new project. The vision was critical as it gave the necessary direction for the prisons authority to leverage ICTs for prison reforms and prisoners empowerment.

The overall implementation strategy for PRISMS included the following :

  • Developing and finalizing the services ecosystem under PRISMS: This involved mainly the informational services both from prison administration perspective as well as prisoner perspective. The former required information related to prisoners records on no less than two dozen activities including prison reforms, health, remissions, revenue earnings, parole, court related, admission and release, and so on. All total 23 such major activities were to decide the services ecosystem under PRISMS. This was of equal importance from the perspective of the prisoner. The resultant analysis of services requirement and development of 23 modules based on 23 activities was no less stupendous tasks. These modules included – prisoner information management module, court information system, remission management, under trial detection alarm system, prisoners work allotment and monitoring, prisoners medical management and others.
  • Delivery and Access channels: It was equally critical to focus on how the information and data will be shared, exchanged, displayed at a given time, speed and relevance. For the administration the intranet and internet based information sourcing within the system was to be made possible under PRISMS for quick, updated and error free data. It also included information related to records and information related to prison office and prisoners. The dedicated server facilities were to serve this purpose. From the prisoners standpoint, it was necessary to have information access points or outlets as primary channel to access all sorts of relevant and ‘must be’ information.  The touch screen based kiosks facility has come in handy for this that has been providing necessary information sought by the prisoners.
  • Implementation / Roll-out strategy: The entire PRISMS project was decided to be completed within 1 year and should cover as many activities and beneficiaries as possible. The project was launched in May 2008 and was to complete by February 2009.  All the 23 modules were to be implemented in the stipulated time frame. The task cut out was 100% implementation across all jails and levels along with a centralized database of 3-tier web based system. The target was for complete ownership of the project with the department within 1 year.

The provision of daily monitoring of implementation of the application by the implementation engineers has had a positive effect. A standard format of status implementation to keep track of developments and targets was maintained by each engineer. The modus operandi to have weekly meetings to review progress and sort out issues in implementation appeared to have worked in favour of a sound implementation approach.

Change Management

Change Management through PRISMS was brought about with a series of changes in key structure and function variables of prison administration. This involved a renewed vision for prison reform, design of reform measures and plan, introduction of measures, skill deployment, resource allocation and  distribution and an inclusive framework for the target beneficiaries and in this case the  prisoners. Overall, the change was to come through reforms in the 23 prime activities whose streamlining determined the level of efficiency in prison administration and empowerment of the prisoners. For instance, one aspect of change management was streamlining the court information including crime and charge-sheets of prisoners. Under PRISMS the Court Information System provided provisions for information including court, authority, Act and under-section details, parties involved etc., provision to track all court hearings and generate court diary; auto calculation of sentence period and Prisoner Data Report (PDR) based on concurrency or consecutive sentences; and provision to enter crime and charge-sheet details.

Another aspect of change management is changes in prisoners work allotment and monitoring mechanism. PRISMS helped to ensure transitions and introduce a new module. It ensured introduction of Master with classification of Labor and wages; auto contribution of wages in accordance with the rules (50% Victim Compensation Fund, 15% joint savings account, 15% legal aid, 20% personal expense). The fast track module ensures that any lags are addressed without much time consumption.

Challenges in Change Management

Among the main challenges faced include improper automation and workflow in the application leading to its non-usage.  Other issues related to a lack of standardization in the application, lack of emphasis on service delivery to the Citizens, lack of enthusiasm from certain sections of the departments to use the application.

There had been absence of proper finalization of the requirements by the department resulting in project over runs.  Much time was invested on capacity building of the nodal officers of the departments to understand the concept of BPR, Change Management, and Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC). Making the system inclusive was a holistic challenge along with training of the jail staff to use the system. Even with the best technology in the world, the success of projects like this always depend on people, their mindset, attitude and way of thinking which finally make the difference. It was a challenge with regard to switching from using the manual system to the newly inducted ICT system. The manual system was in place for 40 years and the officers over time had got used to a certain way of working and thinking, so there was initial resistance in connection with change over to PRISMS.

PROCESS FLOW OF PRISM

Key lessons

PRISMS has enabled to draw key lessons that has and can remain as appropriate guidelines for any similar endeavours :

  • Reform in prison governance is a serious human right matter and its efficient management is possible with right dose of ICT applications in right spirit. However, the desire to bring in reform has to come from within the system itself with integration of soul and mind and technology support system. In case of PRISMS the necessity to bring about changes was the huge administrative and operational challenges in a manual based prison system that had to address and manage activities of 450-500 prisoners at a time. In a hapless situation wherein there was no proper records and information management, wherein the prisoners fate of welfare and their fundamental rights of release, parole and furlough were at stake, wherein administrative decisions were based on incorrect, error prone and casual records vis-à-vis prison reform and prisoners welfare, the extreme necessity of having a reformative system based on ICTs support like the PRISMS stands as a great timely need based intervention towards better prison governance.
  • A critical initiative like PRISMS shall always call for timely and supportive project leadership and enough motivation in the team. This call for participative environment, collaborative spirit, effective coordination mechanism, exceptional support from officers concerned and support from technical team. Introduction of prisons reform in Goa with ICTs involved both a top-down and bottom-up support system. In other words, the ideation, design and implementation of PRISMS had and have all round support of the top administrators including political as well as willingness and cooperation from the line staff.
  • An overarching government process reengineering practice like PRISMS requires a rigid and efficient project planning, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation mechanism on continuous basis. Otherwise the whole purpose is defeated along with loss of time, energy and valuable resources. In case of PRISMS, the appointment of implementation engineers and their day to day monitoring of activities and targets using mechanisms like maintaining a standard format for managing status implementation on weekly basis had worked in right direction.

Methodology adopted for case writing

The case study is based on quantitative and qualitative research supported by an analysis of desk review of literature consisting of primary and secondary data. This includes, ethnographic data information collected in the field through semi structured interviews and individual as well as group discussions.

References

Click Here to Download Full Case Study in PDF Format pdf 1.26 mb

Published On : 11th July, 2013