The York Dispatch – Tuesday, November 5, 2002
Prison may patent, sell new program
Computer can be used to consolidate information on inmates
By Wendi Himmelright
the Dispatch / Sunday News
County prison officials say they’ve developed an innovative computer program that consolidates a broad range of prisoner information - and now they plan to copyright and market it to other prisons.
The program compiles all available information on each prisoner an one computer file, including visiting records, progress notes on behavior, an inmate count and location, property sheets, signs of gang activity and prisoner grievance hearings.
“It was always just so spread out it was difficult to get a big picture of everything that was happening,” said Mary Sabol, operations administrator of the York County Prison.
The information was previously scattered in different computer or paper files, Sabol said. Because that’s probably the case at other prisons, she said, it is likely York could market the software program.
“There’s a need for the program. And we could possibly recoup some of our costs,” Sabol said. This is one of the premier programs in the state.”
Benefits: Features and benefits of the computerized record consolidation include:
Marketing options: St Andrew Development, Inc. of York helped to write the code for the program. Francis McKee, President & CEO of the company, said clients retain ownership of a computer program when custom software is developed. So York County would be free to market its product, McKee said.
It took the prison staff, with the help of St. Andrew, about nine months to write the program. It would cost $500,000 to purchase a similar software package, Prison Board Chairman and County Commissioner James Donohue said.
By doing the bulk of the work with in-house staff, the prison spent about one-tenth of that amount, Sabol said.
Prison Warded Thomas Hogan recently presented the program during a state wardens’ conference, but he hasn’t heard if any other facilities are interested in the program, Donohue said. The county has not decided how much to charge for copies, he said.
County officials must first copyright or patent the program, a lengthily and expensive process, said County Solicitor David Craun.
“If it looks on the surface as though it is something we can do, and its not always clear, we would have a patent attorney do it,” Craun said. “It is a very, very specialized area of law.”
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