Rhode Island Courts glitch

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R.I. court computer glitch delays some arrests

By Associated Press, 1/18/2000 12:29

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 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 administrators.

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. http://www.boston.com/dailynews/018/region/R_I_court_computer_glitch_dela:.shtml

-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), January 18, 2000


Re: Rhode Island Courts glitch

This German news article names that non-compliant software system: Oracle and Computer Technology Corporation.

Standard explanation: The following was translated from German-to- English using Alta Vista's translator. When possible, any words that initially didn't translate well were divided and resubmitted to the translator. Those results are shown in brackets [....] .....

Message of 20.01.2000

Computer sends innocent ones in detention

A new court data base issued at least eight false warrants of arrest in the passed month in the US Federal State Rhode Island. The problem in that twelve million dollar expensive system " Justice link ", which by Oracle and system & computer Technology Corp. was supplied, is indirectly with the Jahr-2000 [Year 2000] problem linked after a report of the " Providence Journal ": Because the law employees should be finished still before the critical datumswechsel [date __] to 31.12.99 with the conversion to the new data base system, in the date stress with data conversion errors were probably inserted. The bug is to be recovered still in this week by a Patch.

The false computer specification led to at least eight arrests; in 150 further cases the law checks whether an error could be present. One the erroneously arrested one accused of before court not to have appeared to which it had driven without valid driving licence. The US police checks the law documents of its citizens by routine with traffic controls. By the judge ordered warrants of arrest can be imposed thereby also for comparatively small offenses.

Since that the error was noticed on 16 December yearly passed, the police is dependent to have acknowledged the data base entries again from the court. However this procedure cannot be applied at the night or on weekend; the police must suspects in such cases to admonish and run let. (wst@ct.heise.de>/ c't) Source: Heise Online news, Germany; article originally published in C't [computer] Magazine

http://www.heise.de/newsticker/result .xhtml?url=/newsticker/data/wst-20.01.00- 000/default.shtml&words=Problem


Original in German:

Meldung vom 20.01.2000

Computer schickt Unschuldige in Arrest Eine neue Gerichtsdatenbank hat im vergangenen Monat im US- Bundesstaat Rhode Island mindestens acht falsche Haftbefehle ausgestellt. Das Problem in dem zwvlf Millionen Dollar teuren System "Justice Link", das von Oracle und Systems & Computer Technology Corp. geliefert wurde, ist nach einem Bericht des "Providence Journal" indirekt mit dem Jahr- 2000-Problem verkn|pft: Weil die Justizangestellten noch vor dem kritischen Datumswechsel am 31.12.99 mit der Umstellung auf das neue Datenbanksystem fertig sein sollten, sind im Terminstress bei der Datenkonversion wahrscheinlich Fehler eingebaut worden. Der Bug soll noch in dieser Woche durch einen Patch behoben werden.

Die falschen Computerangaben f|hrten zu mindestens acht Inhaftierungen; in 150 weiteren Fdllen pr|ft die Justiz, ob ein Fehler vorliegen kvnnte. Einer der irrt|mlich Verhafteten wurde beschuldigt, nicht vor Gericht erschienen zu sein, nach dem er ohne g|ltigen F|hrerschein gefahren war. Die US-Polizei |berpr|ft bei Verkehrskontrollen routinemd_ig die Justizakten ihrer B|rger. Vom Richter verf|gte Haftbefehle kvnnen dabei auch f|r vergleichsweise geringe Vergehen verhdngt werden. Seit dem der Fehler am 16. Dezember vergangenen Jahres bemerkt wurde, ist die Polizei angewiesen, die Datenbankeintrdge noch einmal vom Gericht bestdtigen zu lassen. Allerdings ldsst sich dieses Verfahren nicht in der Nacht oder am Wochenende anwenden; die Polizei muss Verddchtige in solchen Fdllen ermahnen und laufen lassen. (wst /c't)

-- Lee Maloney (leemalony@hotmail.com), March 06, 2000.

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