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Prisoner Transfers Speeded by eDesignate System
Delays in transferring custody of criminal defendants to the Federal
Bureau of Prisons (BOP) once they are sentenced to prison has been a
longtime problem for many federal courts, especially courts along the
nation’s Southwest border.
The delays in "designating" a prisoner into BOP custody
resulted in chronic jail-space crises for courts. But a relatively new
technology—the eDesignate system—is helping speed up prisoner transfers.
The eDesignate is a secure, electronic, web-based system
that allows a probation office and the U.S. Marshals Service to
electronically transmit documents to the BOP after a defendant is
sentenced to custody. That is proving to be a welcome alternative to
collecting and mailing paper documents to the BOP, a process that is
more labor-intensive and expensive.
Developed by the Information Technology Division of the
Department of Justice’s Office of the Federal Detention Trustee,
eDesignate enables agencies to quickly exchange data, which allows for
more effective scheduling of prisoners’ ground and air transportation.
"The system has dramatically reduced the time between
sentencing and prison designation, which has saved millions of dollars
and allowed for the more efficient utilization of detention space,"
reports Deputy Probation Chief David Jones in the District of Arizona,
where a pilot project using a predecessor to eDesignate began in January
From January 2005 to January 2006, the
sentence-to-designation processing time in Arizona was cut from 42 to 22
days, resulting in a savings of more than $6.2 million in the federal
Dan King, systems manager for the probation office in the
Eastern District of Washington, said the April 2006 start-up of the
eDesignate system by his office’s support staff was eased by the shared
experiences of the first two districts to pilot test eDesignate in late
2005, the Southern District of Texas and the District of Maryland.
"The net results have been that we have fewer issues
reconciling document transfers (to the Office of Federal Detention
Trustee), and we probably are working more closely with the Marshals
Service," King said.
In all, 42 district courts were using eDesignate as of
mid-January 2007, and that number was expected to climb to 52 by
February. The Office of the Federal Detention Trustee hopes to have met
with representatives of all 94 district courts by the end of fiscal year
More than 14,000 designations have been made using the eDesignate system.
In Maryland, sending information via eDesignate has
resulted in a 32 percent reduction in processing time. The district’s
sentence-to-designation time has been reduced by an average of eight
days, down from 25 days.
Chief Probation Officer Bill Henry said eDesignate
"allows the Marshals Service and the BOP to instantaneously return files
directly to the probation office when documentation is missing and/or
is incorrect. We are then able to correct the file contents and expedite
the information directly to the BOP," he said.
More about eDesignate can be learned at the Office of Federal Detention Trustee’s web site, www.usdoj.gov/ofdt/technology.htm.