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Criminal Justice Discovers Information Technology

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2000
41 pages
This chapter considers the growth of information technology (IT), its adoption by various actors in the criminal justice system, and the implications for the goals of and expectations for the criminal justice system.
The chapter has two sections. The first section uses a timeline to describe the growth of IT within various sectors of the criminal justice system. The operational technology has permeated police, court, and corrections agencies to promote service delivery. Conversely, the criminal perspective examines issues surrounding computer crime and its impacts on policies and programs. This section of the chapter also examines the changes that pertain to civil rights. An exhibit provides a synopsis of many of the milestones that mark the technological changes of the last half of the 20th century. The second section of this chapter discusses major hurdles and challenges that are confronting the field of criminal justice. Although computer-based innovations began as tools to advance transaction-based processes, by the end of the century criminal justice professionals pursued more ambitious goals for IT, hoping that IT would enhance organization knowledge. Managers expected cases, problems, and events to be identified, tracked, and evaluated more easily, thereby improving productivity and performance; however, several hurdles were encountered at every stage of the IT adoption process. In addition to the technological challenges, organizational hurdles impeded procurement, implementation, operations, and maintenance, regardless of organization size. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the IT challenges confronting the new millennium, namely, the enhancement of collaboration and knowledge; sustaining IT change; deterring, investigating, and prosecuting computer crime in a global market; and mediating the privacy-access debate. 8 exhibits and 130 references

Date Published: January 1, 2000