N.C. Department of Correction--Correction News--May 1998

Four-Year Project Improves OPUS

OPUS was a sneering word when it replaced the former computerized inmate records. Frustrations were rampant. Fuses were short. A few expletives were uttered now and then. The complicated system came at a time when employees were already overburdened with squeezing 20 hours of work into an eight-hour work day.

Today, attitudes have changed. In-depth offender information is available with a few simple key strokes. The minute-by-minute reporting is astounding as well. For example, as soon as an inmate escapes, his status quickly changes to "temporarily absent." Probation and parole absconders are recorded as well. The jail backlog, sentence calculations and inmate bank accounts are also easily retrieved.

All of this work is thanks, not only to the employees who endured the changes, but to the patience of some top-notch computer whizzes in Management Information Services (MIS) who just completed a four-year project to improve OPUS.

"I congratulate Bill Kurdys, Ben Hocutt, Dale Anderson, Jennifer Sehon, Arch O'Brien and their staffs for devoting their time and energies to developing the OPUS system," Correction Secretary Mack Jarvis said. "MIS has done a terrific job organizing a diverse correctional department."

In January of 1994, MIS enlisted the help of hundreds of employees and contractors to overhaul the OPUS system.

"This was all about teamwork," Ben Hocutt, manager of applications, said. "We pulled people from the field who were experts, and some even became permanent members of MIS."

Arch O'Brien, manager of technical services, said, "In designing the system, our people had to understand it all, not just focus on one area like banking or manufacturing."

Bob Brinson, director of all the computer intelligence, said the biggest improvement to OPUS was to consolidate databases for the Division of Prisons and the Division of Adult Probation and Parole. "The database makes it much easier to track an individual's entire history," Brinson said. "It is so sophisticated that it is allowing us to do more sharing of data with other criminal justice departments."

And cursing was no more heard in the land ... well, almost! u

NC DOC Correction News- May 1998
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