Tennessee correction folks don't doubt TOMIS

Tennessee's Corrections Department was rapidly outgrowing the mainframe system it used to track 20,000 state inmates, 50,000 people on probation and parole, and 5,000 people in county jails.

The application was cumbersome and clunky, and the Tennessee Offender Management Information System, or TOMIS, was written in Cobol running on an 11-year-old mainframe. The system took new employees about six months to learn how to use, said Howard Cook, assistant commissioner for operations in the department.

'We knew we needed something more graphical,' said Barbara Charlet, management information systems director of the Corrections Department. And TOMIS, in its existing configuration, couldn't interface with other systems, she said. So the department sought a more graphical, easy-to-use system that could interact with other systems.

Charlet and her team decided to use technology from Jacada Ltd. of Atlanta that offered to create a browser-friendly user interface with the existing mainframe for less than $2 million.

The new TOMIS system will run over the state intranet, not on the Web, Charlet said.

A pilot test of the new system received a positive response from users about a year and a half ago, Charlet said. The revamped TOMIS will be rolled out in October, she said.

Not only will the new system save time and money on training, it will give staff members more time to work with inmates, Cook said.

Owned jointly by the Corrections Department and the Probation and Parole Board, TOMIS stores information related to an inmate's status, criminal history, sentencing, disciplinary actions, grievances and a list of other inmates that the inmate has had problems with, Cook said.

Most of TOMIS' 6,000 users accessed the system over thin client machines.

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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