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National News

Errors Discovered in New Bexar County Criminal Records Database

June 09, 2024 posted by Steve Brownstein

In the first days after its launch, a new publicly searchable criminal records database accidentally showed records that were incorrect or in the process of being expunged, Bexar County officials told reporters a few days ago

The system went live Monday, June 3, and was taken down Wednesday to address the problems. Though that work is ongoing, the portal reopened Thursday evening.

“This is a huge undertaking, taken on in order for us to get to the state-of-the-art, up-to-date [system] which will make it more user-friendly, make it more open, make it more transparent [and] make it so the media can have more meaningful access,” Bexar County Judge Peter Sakai said at a press conference the same day.

“I beg the public’s patience in this particular circumstance as we try to get it right,” he said.

Sakai said the issue of inaccurate records in the new database was first flagged by members of the media, including WOAI and KSAT. The news organizations cited lawyers whose clients were impacted by errors, including some who believed their records had been expunged.

The system’s rollout has also been blamed for a case backlog that developed at the jail over the weekend. Some inmates were stuck behind bars for longer than they should have been, according to the sheriff’s office, to ensure that no one was released who shouldn’t be.

The county worked a backlog of roughly 800 cases down to about 285 as of Thursday evening.

“I apologize for those individuals that have been affected unnecessarily with extended jail stays,” Sakai said.

The transition to the new Enterprise County Integrated Justice System, known as eCIJS, has been in the works for years. It’s supposed to integrate records from various departments and law enforcement agencies and cost the county roughly $30 million.

Bexar County Chief Information Officer Mark Gager said the county wasn’t expecting perfect results from such a massive undertaking, but took every possible precaution to make the transition as smooth as possible.

“We talked about risk. We tested the system over and over again … we feel like we’ve done everything that we could do to prepare,” said Gager, who estimated that more than 500,000 hours of county employee labor went into readying for the transition over the course of four and a half years.

As for news reports of expunged records showing up in the first days after the launch, Gager said he was confident that records expunged in the old system were not exposed.

However, District Court Judge Ron Rangel told reporters that some sensitive records could have still been working through the system.

An expunction allows people to have their criminal records destroyed, and to no longer have to disclose those records when applying for jobs or loans.

“It’s basically a process that takes a little bit of time, more time than what I think the attorneys anticipated,” Rangel said. “As a result of that, full final expunction had not taken place on those [cases] that had been reported by the media.”

Correction: This article had been updated to correct the date the database went live.

 by San Antonio Report


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