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Status of Offender Based Transaction Statistics (OBTS) System Development in the States

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 1981
This report presents the results of a survey of the States' development and use of offender-based transaction statistics (OBTS). Survey questionnaires were sent to the Statistical Analysis Center (SAC) Director in each State with an SAC and to the Criminal Justice Council (CJC) Director in each State without an SAC.

Responses were received from 47 States, including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Thirty-one respondents indicated they were developing, or had developed, some type of OBTS system. Eleven had operational OBTS systems, for which the reporting and design phases had been completed so that data entry had begun. The principal means of reporting data to the State OBTS systems is a prescribed form for the police, prosecutor, and court segments. The second method uses a byproduct of a court management information system. About half the 31 States developing an OBTS system appear to have a tracking mechanism to link OBTS data segments with each component using the same identification number to refer to an offender arrest processing. The remaining States either rely on several identifiers to track offender processing or do not have an official tracking mechanism. Most States use an offender-arrest accounting unit for their OBTS system, and almost half the States currently record all charges at one or more points in an offender's processing. About half the States include or are planning to include information on only fingerprint felony offenses, and the State OBTS files generally appear to be designed to include most of the data elements listed in the Bureau of Justice Statistics OBTS tape submission standards. Finally, most respondents are monitoring the elapsed time between arrest and trial and the impact of delay in processing on court dispositions, the number of offenders processed through the components of the system, the number of recidivists, and other data. They also mentioned types of data bases other than OBTS which would be of assistance; i.e., corrections management information systems and population/demographic data. Tables, footnotes, graphs, flow charts, and pie charts are provided. The survey questionnaire, responses from Puerto Rico, and State groupings by OBTS development are appended. (Author summary modified)

Date Published: August 1, 1981