The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is hoping to find as-yet unrecognized patterns of adaptation and recidivism — which the agency terms “inmate reintegration into the community — by asking software developers to provide information about commercially available software capable of aggregating the various types of data the agency already collects.
A request published by the agency on March 15 asks for submission of information on off-the-shelf products that can aggregate and interpret data to identify hidden patterns and links that would provide information useful for internal security, public safety, intelligence-gathering and other administrative purposes.
Since the information to be studied and stored includes petabytes of data, and could be simultaneously accessed by numerous users, BOP wants solutions using an open architecture capable of handling that scale of data without being slowed down.
The agency’s ambitions don’t end there, however. Its request for information adds that BOP wants to create a system that can accommodate a case management component, so that it can use link and trend analysis to improve the agency’s understanding of such subjects as “interpersonal relationships” and “illicit financial and communications transactions,” and develop forensic-quality evidence and make agency decisions on security-related issues both faster and more reliable.
As examples of the variety of data types BOP plans to have its new system correlate, the agency’s request for information mentions such diverse items as telephone logs, computer IP logs, text messages, emails, data from mobile applications, and financial transactions. Social networks are another area of interest named by BOP; it says it wants a system able to analyze social networks and identify their key individuals and intra-network relationships.
On April 19, BOP updated its information request by publishing a list of answers to questions it had received on its inquiry. Though very brief, some of the agency’s answers to some of these questions are intriguing, either because they add new facts or raise further questions.
For example, asked how the agency currently tracks the type of information it’s looking to find better, more integrated ways to follow, BOP notes it presently uses an internally developed system. The agency also says it expects the case management component of a new integrated system will be capable of monitoring 200,000 inmates as well as 20,000 released former inmates.
A response to another question reveals BOP expects about 350 people will be able to access any new integrated post-release data system it sets up, and adds that all but 100 of those will be within the agency, but does not further identify who or where they might be. The agency does say, however, it is looking for products capable of supporting access using English, Spanish and Arabic. The request for information asks submissions be emailed to BOP by May 9.
In recent months, the BOP has been fairly active in soliciting information for its analytic tools, having also issued public information requests related to ways to improve health care services for older inmates, and for managing its resources more efficiently and reducing its costs. We noted that in an April 13 article which can be found here.
Christopher Zoukis is the author of the Federal Prison Handbook (Middle Street Publishing, 2017), Prison Education Guide (Prison Legal News Publishing, 2016) and College for Convicts(McFarland & Co., 2014). He regularly contributes to The Huffington Post, New York Daily News and Prison Legal News. This article is partially adapted from the Federal Prison Handbook. He can be found online at PrisonerResource.com