State Auditor Says Prison System's $14 Million Software Isn't Useful

In a report released September 6, the state auditor writes that the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is getting little, if any, useful return for the state's investment in the Correctional Offender Management Profiling for Alternative Sanctions (COMPAS) software.

The software, which has cost the taxpayers more than $14 million, is intended to identify factors that cause inmates to commit crimes, so they can participate in rehabilitative programs such as substance abuse treatment or vocational education programs. But the auditor found that the prisons' use of the system is "inconsistent," that prison assignments often are not based on COMPAS, staff has not been trained on how to use the system, and that according to some staff, "There is a lack of buy-in on COMPAS across the institutions and the tool does not seem beneficial."

Additionally, the auditor reported, "The value of using COMPAS to assess an inmate's needs is limited – COMPAS core assessment identifies up to five different needs; however, Corrections has rehabilitation programs that only address two."

The exact cost is unknown, the auditor said. The report stated: "Corrections does not have records that show how much it cost to deploy and administer COMPAS to its parole units and reception centers and did not establish an accounting system to track such costs. Further, it has reported a total of $14.6 million in actual COMPAS costs that it could not explain." (Source: Bureau of State Audits Report 2010-124, September 6.)

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