In 2014, the Pennsylvania Justice Network (JNET) applied for and received a $250,000 grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) to implement a new Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) in Cumberland County. This grant was used in conjunction with a combined $480,000 funding award consisting of Paul Coverdell National Forensic Science Improvement and Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG) funds issued by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) to the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association (PCPA) to leverage web services and improve the sharing of information about blood evidence between the county’s forensics lab and its criminal justice agency partners. This project is in support of the long-standing efforts by PCCD to improve information sharing and automate data exchanges within the criminal justice system. This effort to streamline the information sharing between the four publicly funded laboratories, the district attorneys, law enforcement departments and the courts was initiated by the Cumberland County Lab and presented to the PCCD Local Technology Workgroup and the PCCD Statewide Forensic Lab Working Group (SFLWG). The SFLWG membership consists of representatives of four of the publicly-funded forensic laboratories in the state. This justice-to--health information exchange solution is expected to advance the fair and expeditious administration of DUI cases in Cumberland County and will serve as a model for other laboratory information sharing initiatives.
According to the BJA grant solicitation requirements, recipients would advance information sharing capabilities by: 1) leveraging existing information sharing networks rather than creating new networks; 2) leveraging one or more of the components of the Global Standards Package; and 3) supporting justice policies, practices and programs that are data-driven and evidence-based.
The goals of the JNET/Cumberland County LIMS Web Service project are to:
• Advance information sharing via direct system exchange, using national JIS standards, between laboratories and justice systems in Cumberland County;
• Create a service that can be replicated in other counties in Pennsylvania and other states that have similar requirements;
• Reduce the amount of time used to process lab results by enabling justice and health standards;
• Enable faster, more direct and accurate results to expedite decisions and case processing; and
• Save money.
During the grant period, JNET partnered with the NCJA Center for Justice Planning (NCJP) to gather performance indicators, document efficiencies and ensure evidence-based practices were developed and implemented. To this end, the NCJP:
1) Conducted on-site visits and surveys to establish a baseline “as-is” business model of the Cumberland County DUI process;
2) Conducted research and developed baseline performance measures;
3) Identified business constraints, evaluated policies and business processes and provided outreach efforts to foster reuse of this justice-to-health initiative by other states; and
4) Conducted a post-analysis of performance measures collected, and contributed results-based information in the final report.
Click the link below to view the final report from the NCJP.