O’Keefe says his office alerted auditor to uncollected data for youthful offenders; spending DA budget to update system.
Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe calls auditor’s statement ‘misleading’
| Cape Cod Times
BOSTON — State auditor
Suzanne Bump’s office
sent out a warning to district attorneys across the state this week about an outdated case management system.
Cape and Islands District Attorney
says his office has known about, and been trying to fix, the issue for a long time. He called Bump’s statement “misleading.”
On Wednesday, Bump’s office said the system used by all 11 of the state’s district attorneys’ offices is “not equipped to provide critical data about young people involved with the criminal justice system,” as required under the 2018 criminal justice reform law.
Bump’s statement came with the release of an audit of the Cape and Islands District Attorney’s Office victim-witness assistance program and its youthful diversion program.
Though the audit found no deficiencies in either area, Bump went on to warn the district attorneys in a press release that their case management systems were not capable of tracking all the data required for juvenile offenders, including age, gender, racial or ethnic category and type of crime.
“The well-being of young people involved in the criminal justice system is far too important to be stymied by outdated and ineffective technology,” Bump said in the statement. “This is a solvable problem. The Massachusetts District Attorney Association must make the technological upgrades and investments necessary to ensure district attorneys from across the state can begin tracking and reporting this important data and the Juvenile Justice Policy and Data Board gets the information it needs to do its job effectively.”
The 2018 law created the Juvenile Justice Policy and Data Board, which is charged with collecting data from criminal justice agencies that have contact with juvenile offenders, including district attorneys, according to Bump. The board uses the data to provide recommendations to improve the outcomes of young people in the criminal justice system.
O’Keefe countered that the state’s district attorneys have long advocated for a new case management system and brought on a consultant in the past to help with procurement, but never got funding from the Legislature to pay for an upgrade.
“This self-aggrandizing release from the Auditor is typical and designed to grab a headline,” O’Keefe responded. “Her ‘warning’ as if she discovered a problem is misleading and inaccurate at best and demonstrates a lack of understanding of government funding. She should stick to counting widgets.”
District attorneys are investing $96,000 of their own budgets to refresh procurement efforts and “have a reasonable degree of confidence” that they’ll secure funding through a technology bond bill.
O’Keefe said the information about the work to try to get a new system was reported to the auditors during the audit.
“They have by this press release demonstrated that they also know very little about the processes of government,” O’Keefe’s statement read.