Courts in more than 20 US states face allegations of wrongful arrests.
When most companies implement a brand-new software system to run the entire operation, there are bound to be glitches and headaches. Training all the employees, updating the hardware to run the software, and making sure the system communicates with other mission-critical agencies’ networks are all expected hurdles. But there’s one program that’s not only causing those same headaches around the country, new customers continue to purchase and implement the software despite the illegal results.
What type of business could be in such dire circumstances? The criminal justice system. Thanks to one software package, Odyssey from Tyler Technologies, courts in more than 20 US states are now facing allegations of wrongful arrests, inmates held past their release dates, and inmates failing to appear in court.
The anecdotes from the multiple lawsuits in at least five states read like a laundry list of judicial nightmares. Three inmates in one California jail were imprisoned for a total of fifty days past their release dates–at the tax payers’ expense, of course. Another individual in Memphis was held two weeks longer than his four month sentence mandated, and he was threatened with further criminal charges when he demanded to see a judge about the matter. In one case, a defendant was never brought for his appearance in court, and it took more than two hours for officials to locate him in the jail.
Tyler Technologies has a ready answer for the problem: we’re the court software guys, not the jail software guys. In their own words, the court’s computers can’t talk to the jail’s computers. If the court says a certain inmate is set to be released on the 30th of the month, the jail’s computers often can’t get that information. Due to paperless record keeping, there’s no one getting word to the warden to unlock the jail cell.
While even more states are already at work implementing this multi-million dollar software, new lawsuits continue to be filed on behalf of wrongfully imprisoned citizens. This comes at a time when the entire judicial system is under intense criticism and scrutiny for the privatized for-profit prison network and the biased mandatory sentencing associated with the failed “war on drugs.” Recent statements by the Trump administration have alluded to even heavier crackdowns on states that intentionally overlook medical and recreational marijuana use.