Courts and law enforcement will save time and money from 62% faster process for getting inmates to court hearings
IN BRIEF: The "out to court" release process enables inmates to be present for court hearings. The process requires communication with outside agencies and internal work units at DRC. It's a high-priority process that has been done well in the past, but in the future, it will be far simpler and faster thanks to the work of a Kaizen team.
EFFICIENT COMMUNICATION: The scheduling of inmates to participate at hearings will be communicated more efficiently, and prison staff will receive a more concise notice to prepare the inmate for transport to the hearing.
EASIER COORDINATION: Institutions will save time and money coordinating bed space.
SIMPLER AND FASTER: The entire process will take 13 days on average -- a 62% improvement over the 34-day average in the past.
DIRECT SAVINGS: The elimination of paper forms will save $26,100 a year in printing expense.
SMARTER WORK HOURS: The elimination of document scanning will allow 1,080 hours to be redirected to mission-critical work.
After mapping out the current state of the process, team members scrutinize every step. Their goal: To find every occurrence of inefficiency in the current way of doing things. This sets the stage for development of draft redesigns of the process.
"OTC" is more than just an acronym for people in Ohio's justice system. It stands for "Out To Court," and it refers to the process of coordinating and communicating the release of inmates for their court hearings.
It's a high-priority process that safeguards judicial rights and maximizes safety and security for everyone.
The OTC section at DRC has lead responsibility. OTC staff coordinate with a variety of stakeholders, including county sheriffs, probation officers, institutions, Adult Parole Authority, and others.
The process typically begins with a phone call from a sheriff to schedule a court hearing and transport. The OTC section prepares the needed documents and gets them to the institution. The institution adds the needed authorizations and signatures, then returns the documents to OTC staff. Following the court hearing, staff update the record and enter the proper codes into the system to reflect the inmate's release or return to the institution.
It's the kind of process that has to be done right every time, and indeed, OTC staff have done a great job handling a tremendous work load. During the last seven months of 2012, they processed an average of 147 cases every week.
Here, team members are working on what is known as a clean-sheet redesign. They are using their analysis of the current situation to develop a transformed and streamlined process -- a new way of doing things that will be simpler, faster, better, and less costly. (Left to right: Regina Cox, Becky O’Donnell, Sharon Taylor, and Missy Adams.)
But staff felt that the process could be improved. They had been talking about ways to make it simpler and improve turnaround time, but they wanted to do more than just talk. So they set aside five days for a full Kaizen event -- and that's when the transformation began.
Like all Kaizen events, this one involved serious analysis of the current situation. The team developed a map of the current inmate OTC release process, revealing 171 individual work steps and 41 instances of inefficiency. The process had become complex and cumbersome, but this didn't deter team members. It did just the opposite, strengthening their determination to simplify.
The team went on to build a set improvements that allow for a significantly streamlined process.
The biggest change has to do with paperwork. With the new system designed by the team, two paper forms will become ancient history -- to be replaced by one electronic form. What used to be done through hard-copy forms and back-and-forth calls will be done almost entirely online.
The previous approach had people from 12 different work areas involved in the process at certain points. The streamlined approach involves just 6 work areas, further reducing handoffs, delays, and potential miscommunication.
Among those who will be very involved are OTC coordinators, who will be identified at each institution. The team sees this role as being critical to the success of the process going forward. All OTC coordinators and OTC section staff will be fully trained as the improvements are implemented.
The newly designed process has 36 steps -- a 79% improvement over those 171 steps with the old way of doing things. Delays will go from 12 to 1 (92% improvement). Decision points will fall from 21 to 6 (a 71% improvement). And best of all, the overall process time will speed up significantly -- from 34 days to 13 days (a 62% improvement).
The new process will also save money. To print all those paper forms, the current printing expense is $26,000 per year. The online system will bring the cost to zero. It's the same with scanning. Currently, 1,080 hours are needed each year to scan hard-copy documents. That number too will be brought to zero -- allowing for all that time to be redirected to mission-critical work.
To keep an eye on key numbers, the DRC Kaizen team made designed an OTC internal dashboard that will track key measures: how long an inmate is at court, the number of days or months an offender is out to court, same-day releases, and so on. Historically, measures have been tracked manually through emails and hard-copy forms. An online dashboard will give the OTC unit its own real-time read of the current situation -- supplying information that can be used to improve the process even further.