R.I. computer glitch delays some arrests

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R.I. court computer glitch delays some arrests

By Associated Press, 1/18/2000 07:54

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) A glitch in a new computer system in the state courts led officers to wrongly arrests some Rhode Islanders and forced police to delay apprehending true suspects.

The problem poses no significant public safety threat, as most of the cases involve misdemeanors such as disorderly conduct, failing to appear in court or failing to pay fines, officials said.

Since the system went online last month, it issued about 350 inaccurate warrants, while confusing the names of about 1,500 past and present suspects, The Providence Journal reported Tuesday.

At least eight people were arrested for misdemeanors they didn't commit and at least two were jailed overnight before the mistakes became known in court the next day.

State Supreme Court Chief Justice Joseph Weisberger told every Rhode Island police agency on Dec. 16 to check their computers against paper files at the courthouse before arresting anyone on a court warrant.

There have been no false arrests since then.

But officers, unable to verify warrants when the courts are closed, have had to free suspects.

''Some of these people, the cops have arrested and they know there's a warrant for them in their hearts they know there's a warrant,''' East Providence police Maj. Wayne Gallagher said. ''Now they have to say, `Well we'll catch you another time, another day.'''

The system affects only warrants issued by judges. Police arrest warrants for serious crimes continue to be available online 24 hours.

State court administrator Robert Harrall had said last month that clerks would work around the clock if the computer problem wasn't fixed, but he has not followed through with the plan.

''I didn't want to spend the money if we didn't have to,'' he said. ''It didn't seem to be working a great hardship on the police.''

The $12 million computer system was part of a four-year project to modernize the courts' 1980s computer network. The system holds records of 342,000 criminal cases and 40,000 warrants and tracks suspects for prosecutors, defense lawyers, police and prison officials.

The problems arose from bad records in the old computer system that gummed up the newer, more sophisticated network.

Technicians already have found the inaccurate warrants and expect to fix the remaining problems this week. Harrall estimates the repairs will cost around $50,000.

-- Homer Beanfang (Bats@inbellfry.com), January 18, 2000


The problems arose from bad records in the old computer system that gummed up the newer, more sophisticated network...

I suppose it begs the question, but if the "newer, more sophisticated network" is so bloody superior to the one that had been working for 20 years, how'd it get "gummed up" by some bad records?????

-- I'm Here, I'm There (I'm Everywhere@so.beware), January 18, 2000.

* * * 20000118 Tuesday

I'm Here, I'm There ...

GIGO: Garbage In Garbage Out

This, the reason so many firms are desperately seeking the new rage for "Quality Assurance." There's evidence there's been _a few_ "Lessons Learned" from Y2K.

Thorough, intelligent (RULE-BASED) _EDITING_ of External/Internal Data Interfaces is EVERYTHING for systems integrity! That take TIME and MONEY that--heretofore--was considered a waste of time and/or a "money pit" luxury.

Regards, Bob Mangus

* * *

-- Robert Mangus (rmangus1@yahoo.com), January 18, 2000.

Pardon me, but when did it become no big deal ("no public safety threat") for innocent citizens to be arrested and tossed in jail?

-- Daisy Jane (deeekstrand@access1.com), January 19, 2000.

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