Center for Criminology and Public Policy Research receives contract from the Florida Department of Corrections to validate the Correctional Operations Trend Analysis System

June 6, 2011

Filed Under: Awards, Faculty, Research

The Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) received a multi-year grant from the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), to develop a system that utilizes data elements from FDOC’s various databases into a unified, real-time data warehouse. The Correctional Operations Trend Analysis System (COTAS) uses historical data to model the probability of incidents of violence occurring in all FDOC facilities in the state (at the facility and inmate levels). These models are then applied to “real-time” data to provide administrators with a “climate” reading from the individual level to the facility level. Additionally, COTAS utilizes a “dashboard” device as the visual representation of the data to provide administrators with easy-to-interpret warnings or thresholds when the probability of a violent incident is elevated, thus allowing the administrator to take appropriate actions to reduce the threat prior to the occurrence of an incident. In fulfillment of the NIJ grant, COTAS must be independently validated for reliability and predictive accuracy.

The Center for Criminology and Public Policy Research has been awarded the contract to conduct the validation of the predictive measures for violence, the thresholds that distinguish levels of threat, the aggregation of the data, and the user interface of the software (degree to which the interface is meaningful, intuitive, understandable, and constructive). The Center will oversee the validation of the software implementation through the use of an expert in the field of data mining and computer science.

The results of this research will indicate the level of predictive accuracy of COTAS, and the strengths and weaknesses. Further, this validation will detail the extent to which this system can be replicated in other states’ correctional systems.

Dr. Jim Clark is the lead researcher on this project with assistance from Associate Professor Bill Bales, Center Director Karen Mann, Graduate Research Assistant Leslie Hill, and Dean Thomas Blomberg.