Montgomery County hopes to create seamless paperless justice system

July 2nd, 2014 | Posted by Kevin Corley in Document and Information Capture | Document Management | Workflow

With $8.1 million Montgomery County, Texas, has renovated its entire justice system in an effort to go paperless. The content management system will instantly share information between investigators, judges, clerks and prosecutors according to the Houston Chronicle. 

Changes began in 2011 when officials purchased laptops for sheriff patrol cars. In 2012 an integrated computer system for data-sharing amongst clerks, courts and prosecutors was implemented. And most recently, last week a $2.6 million contract was issues to purchase software meant to serve the sheriff's headquarters as well as deputies on patrol. The county's previous system was over a decade old.

Last month the county joined Harris, Galveston, Brazoria and Fort Bend in implementing e-filing capabilities for all civil records. In January the Texas Supreme Court introduced a two-year long scale for counties to integrate mandated e-filing systems.

County Information and Technology Director Marshall Shirley's last task is to update the jail's system to make it compatible with those at the sheriff's office and the courthouse. Support for the jail's computer system will end in 2016.

"In the past, we had three separate systems for courts, clerks and prosecutors that did not interface together. Our systems had been purchased so long ago that we had to do our own maintenance because the vendors had gone out of business," Shirley said.

Going paperless can make communications between departments as well as with third-parties much more efficient. According to Intuit, data retrieval rates will increase as errors are mitigated with the introduction of a digital over paper-based system. And the speed at which communications move won't be the only benefit Montgomery County sees.

At around $40 per case paper is expensive. Even more costly is ink. Fortune 100 companies can spend up to $7,500 per employee annually on paper document management. Eight-person company estimates savings of around $100,000 per year after going paperless reports Intuit.

And, beside the time and money saved by transitioning to document management software, files are much better protected when they exist digitally. Back-up storage ensures that all the county's documents will remain safe.

"If there is a catastrophic event like a courthouse fire, tornado or flood, we just have to go to another site to print our documents," said Barbara Adamick, Montgomery County's district clerk.

Clerks will begin entering criminal data into the system next month, in an attempt to stay one step ahead – this is not yet mandated by the state.

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