Montana Receives Federal Grant for Improved Justice Information Technology Programs
HELENA – Montana is one of 26 states to receive more than $16 million in grants announced this week by the U.S. Department of Justice. The funds will help connect information networks and allow law enforcement officials, court administrators, corrections officers and others to share relevant justice information.
“One of my goals is to implement an integrated computer system for criminal histories in Montana that allows all criminal justice agencies fast and accurate information about a suspect’s criminal status,” Attorney General Mike McGrath said. “These funds will help us create that integrated system.”
Montana received $40,000 to develop and improve electronic communication between the Department of Justice, Department of Corrections and the office of the administrator of the Supreme Court.
Wilbur Rehmann, project manager of the Montana Criminal Justice Information Services Project, said the Department of Justice grant will allow agencies to build a connection with the Supreme Court administrator’s office and track court dispositions electronically. Under the existing system, dispositions are handled solely with paper copies.
An official from the U.S. Department of Justice said more effective links between information systems should lead to better sentencing decisions and improved public safety.
“For too long, the different arms of the criminal justice system at the federal, state and local levels have not known what the others were doing,” said Mary Lou Leary, an Acting Assistant Attorney General in the federal Office of Justice Programs. “By helping law enforcement, courts, probation and parole agencies and other components of the criminal justice system to more effectively share information, we will enhance public safety.”
Projects funded by the grants last from 12 to 24 months. They must contribute directly to improving information sharing among law enforcement and criminal justice agencies at state and local levels. Grants ranged from $40,000 to $1 million.
The grants are made under a program authorized by the Crime Identification Technology Act of 1998. The program is administered by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, in cooperation with the National Governors’ Association Center for Best Practice.