Software bug in US prisons would force thousands of people to stay in prison indefinitely

A bill powered by lawmakers in Arizona, US, proposes that those convicted of narcotic related crimes be able to obtain early release in order to complete their rehabilitation treatments, as long as these people show good behavior and actively join self-improvement and social work programs.

Although the idea appeals to hundreds of convicts serving minor sentences, the project is being ignored due to a security bug with the software for prison operation in Arizona, which has caused massive early release credit count failures. This error has interrupted indefinitely the review of any parole request.

Local media report that state prisons are trying to perform these counts manually, although this implies that the process will be carried out more slowly. Currently there are more than 7,000 convicts who could benefit from this law, local media insures, although all their procedures will remain interrupted.  

On the cause of these outages, sources close to the incident mention that this is an error in the Correctional Information System (CIS) software, which has made it impossible for inmates to access detailed information. Despite acknowledging mistakes in this information system, Arizona prison system officials say these flaws will in no way cause a prisoner to stay more time in jail than established in their sentences, besides ensuring the parole reviewing processes are still active manually: “Records that inform us if a prisoner is a candidate for parole are constantly monitored, so we can ensure that these reviews will be enforced in accordance with the procedures set by law,” says one official.

The official adds that, in addition to automated credit calculation, failures have been detected in Arizona jail date verification systems, although they hope to re-enable these features in the coming days: “CIS has a history of accurate sentence calculations based on our current manual method. This has been the subject of litigation in the past and our method has been consistently supported by the courts of Arizona.”  

To learn more about information security risks, malware, vulnerabilities and information technologies, feel free to access the International Institute of Cyber Security (IICS) website.