Judicial Technology and Automation Committee
Division of State Court Administration
30 S. Meridian Street, Ste. 500
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Director and Counsel for Trial Court Technology
In January 2010, the state of Indiana began work to develop a data-driven criminal justice policy framework for the state and formed the Criminal Code Evaluation Commission. In December 2010, the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center, in conjunction with the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) of the U.S. Department of Justice and the PEW Center on the States, published a report titled Justice Reinvestment in Indiana: Summary Report & Policy Framework (http://www.in.gov/legislative/interim/committee/reports/CCECDB1.pdf). This report summarized the findings of data collection throughout the state, and made recommendation on how to improve Indiana’s justice system.
As a result of the report’s findings, and due to concerns with the validity of data utilized in the PEW study, Representative Ralph Foley established the Data Analysis Work Group (DAWG) to provide accurate data concerning criminal offenders. The Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC) has further supported these efforts and encouraged the electronic storage and transmission of certain data and documents to make procedures more efficient and allow for more accurate data. During the 2012 legislative session, the General Assembly enacted Indiana Code 35-38-1-31 [effective July 1, 2012], which states that “if a court imposes on a person convicted of a felony a sentence that involves a commitment to the Department of Correction, the court shall complete an abstract of judgment in an electronic format approved by the Department of Correction and the Division of State Court Administration”. Although the Abstract of Judgment was a paper document already in place and required by the courts to be completed for all DOC commitments, the new statute added additional requirements and data elements that were not found in the previous Abstract of Judgment document, and in some cases, these data elements were not collected in the various court case management systems.
In May 2012, the Indiana Supreme Court amended the Indiana Criminal Rules of Procedure with the addition of Rule 15.2, effective July 1, 2012. This rule states that “upon sentencing a person for any felony conviction, the court shall complete an abstract of judgment in an electronic format approved by the Division of State Court Administration”. However, on June 28, 2012, Chief Justice Dickson signed an Order directing trial courts “to make all best efforts to comply [with Criminal Rule 15.2 for non-DOC commitments] as soon as practicable for those defendants, but no later than December 31, 2012”.
JTAC developed the electronic Abstract of Judgment Application, which is housed in the Offender Management System in INcite, under the direction of the Records Management Committee. JTAC also worked with a sub-committee of judges, a circuit court clerk, the Prosecuting Attorneys Council, the Public Defenders Council, the Indiana Department of Correction and the Indiana Judicial Center on this project. As a result of IC 35-38-1-31 and Criminal Rule 15.2, statewide conviction and sentencing data will be readily available to the courts, legislators and other policy makers. Additionally, all trial courts in the state now have a standardized, electronic method for transmitting sentencing information for all offenders committed to the Department of Correction.
The Abstract of Judgment contains a Case Overview and five Abstract sections. Users are required to enter all charges and amended charges (if applicable) for the case, dispose of each count, and provide the sentencing information for each convicted charge. Additional questions in the Abstract of Judgment provide the DOC with information pertaining to dates the offender was confined prior to sentencing, whether the sentence was a result of a revocation of community supervision, whether the offender is a credit restricted felon, and whether the offender is required to return to the court for probation supervision upon release. The courts have the ability to attach the Judgment of Conviction and Sentencing Order to the case, enabling DOC staff to have all the information required by statute to expedite the intake process for a person who has been sentenced to the Department.
Two user-friendly tools were incorporated into the Abstract of Judgment application: the Court Calendar and the Abstract Queue. The Court Calendar displays a monthly or daily view of all cases scheduled for sentencing in a particular court. Information in this view appears as a result of data entered in the PSI Report regarding the scheduled sentencing hearing date. The Abstract Queue is a tool to be utilized by the county jail users and DOC staff to monitor and manage completed Abstracts of Judgment for DOC commitments. Users can adjust the status of the Abstract and indicate when the offender has been processed by DOC, or even flag an offender being held at the county jail for a particular reason.