Most law enforcement in Texas falls to the state’s 254 counties, whether they have 82 residents like Loving County or 4.1 million like Harris County. The counties’ law enforcement obligations include juvenile justice, a particularly complicated facet of law enforcement woven through with child privacy laws and cross-jurisdiction coordination with social service agencies and adult law enforcement.
The Texas juvenile justice system’s mission is to intervene to help minors avoid turning into adult offenders. Information sharing is critical to providing juveniles with appropriate services. Before then-Gov. George Bush initiated a program to improve the juvenile justice system, the only information that was available to all juvenile agencies was arrest records for serious felonies. Those comprise a very small percentage of juvenile cases, so three large counties – Dallas, Tarrant and Bexar – engaged the Texas Conference of Urban Counties (Urban Counties) to develop a Web-based system to consolidate all juvenile justice information in one system. The TechShare.Juvenile program’s scope expanded beyond the three original counties to enable all of Texas’ counties to join.
TechShare.Juvenile will have an estimated 65,000 users across Texas when it’s fully implemented. With so many users in so many different jurisdictions, the Urban Counties development team had to put a high priority on integrating scalable, flexible document creation functionality into TechShare.Juvenile. Although Texas has a few standard legal forms, such as arrest reports, each jurisdiction has its own formats for court and juvenile documents. TechShare.Juvenile had to enable users to create document templates specific to their jurisdictions.
Texas Conference of Urban Counties
Generate juvenile justice documents from statewide database.
Integrate ActiveDocs Opus template management and document automation with Web-based information system.
Documents are produced quickly in customized local formats.
TechShare.Juvenile will have an estimated 65,000 users across Texas when it’s fully implemented. With so many users in so many different jurisdictions, the Urban Counties development team had to make a high priority of integrating scalable, flexible document creation functionality into TechShare.Juvenile.
The Urban Counties hired a consultant to evaluate three document automation and template management solutions. The consultant recommended ActiveDocs Opus document automation software. Built on the latest Microsoft .NET framework, ActiveDocs integrated smoothly with TechShare.Juvenile’s SQL database and provided built-in tools for template design and document approval.
Users access ActiveDocs Opus through the main TechShare.Juvenile interface. ActiveDocs Opus presents the user with a menu of document templates to select from. For law enforcement officers, the system is context sensitive and automatically pulls up an arrest report template.
If the juvenile’s name, photograph or fingerprint is already in the system, ActiveDocs Opus retrieves existing reports, notes, etc., from the TechShare.Juvenile database and adds them to the new document.
If the juvenile is not in the system, the state assigns them an ID and the system associates it with their name and fingerprints so they can be identified even if they refuse to identify themselves – a frequent problem in juvenile justice.
Information from the TechShare.Juvenile system is automatically pulled into the document and, if required, the user enters further information. Once the document has been finished and receives any necessary approvals, ActiveDocs Opus moves it to a repository and associates it with the correct TechShare.Juvenile system record.
Users are then able to easily retrieve any document created for a juvenile within the TechShare.Juvenile system.
Microsoft .NET foundation enabled the Urban Counties to integrate ActiveDocs Opus with TechShare.Juvenile and the SQL database without extraordinary cost or effort.
Embedded workflow saved the Urban Counties from integrating a separate workflow tool for document approval.
Template authoring tools enable the Urban Counties or local specialists to create as many customized templates as juvenile justice agencies need.
ActiveDocs Opus enables TechShare.Juvenile users to instantly create documents such as reports, court orders, and conditions of probation employing templates that automatically retrieve information from the SQL database.
Urban Counties staff or specialists at the county level use integrated template creation tools to design documents for each jurisdiction, and even for individual juvenile judges within each jurisdiction. Urban Counties or county template authors are allowed to see other templates in the system so they can share ideas, but integrated access control and permissions settings in ActiveDocs Opus prevent anyone except authorized users from changing templates.
ActiveDocs Opus’ built-in workflow engine enables administrators to create approval processes. The software supports role-based security for keeping juvenile information confidential. Once a document is stored the system automatically associates it with other relevant records, such as probation reports and arrest records.