Friday, February 26, 2021

Outdated Software Keeps Inmates Beyond Their Release Dates

Jimmy Jenkins (via Hacker News):

According to Arizona Department of Corrections whistleblowers, hundreds of incarcerated people who should be eligible for release are being held in prison because the inmate management software cannot interpret current sentencing laws.


According to the sources, the entire inmate management software program, known as ACIS, has experienced more than 14,000 bugs since it was implemented in November of 2019.

The article calls this one of the bugs, but it sounds like the state changed the requirements without appropriating any funds to update the software. The estimated “2,000 additional programming hours” seems rather small given the scope of the program:

The ACIS software system replaced an older program called AIMS that had been in operation for more than three decades. According to a 2019 presentation to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, the Department of Corrections has spent more than $24 million replacing the inmate management system. A department spokesperson testified that requirements for the project were poorly scoped from the beginning, resulting in a contract that went millions of dollars over budget.


Software is simultaneously infallible and the perfect scapegoat. The inmate who lost their phone privileges for 30 days is an example. They did nothing wrong but the computer says so and nothing can be done. The computer is right in the sense that its decision cannot be undone, and solely to blame since no human can undo its edict or be held accountable, apparently.


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