Alaska OBTS

Alaska OBTS

Allan Barnes

Barnes, Allan R. (1991). "Alaska OBTS." Alaska Justice Forum 8(2): 4 (Summer 1991). The Offender Based Transaction Statistics (OBTS) program of the Bureau of Justice Statistics tracks adult offenders from point of entry into the criminal justice system through final disposition, and is designed to permit assessment of the performance of the adult criminal justice system. This article describes Alaska's participation in the OBTS program, which is administered by the Statistical Analysis Unit (SAU) of the Justice Center.

In Alaska the Offender Based Transaction Statistics data program described in the preceding article is administered by the Statistical Analysis Unit (SAU) of the Justice Center. In general, the OBTS system provides for information concerning the offender, i.e., age; race; sex; the felony offense charge for which the subject was arrested; the prosecution charge (or date case was dropped); as well as court dispositions and sentencing information. The purpose of OBTS is to obtain sufficiently detailed data to permit assessment of the performance of the adult criminal justice system.

The Prosecutor Management Information System (PROMIS) of the Alaska Department of Law was selected as the source for Alaska OBTS data because, among Alaska justice agency information management systems, it offers the most complete assembly of data elements required under OBTS guidelines.

Alaska OBTS tapes are restricted to all those cases both opened and closed by the criminal justice system after January 1, 1984. The data for 1984 and all subsequent years use this beginning date as a base. An encryption algorithm preserves the confidentiality of each case while permitting tracking over the years. To compile the OBTS tape under federal guidelines, Alaska statutes used in charging offenders are converted into the appropriate National Crime Information Center (NCIC) code. Some elements sought by the OBTS program, such as type of court, are necessarily univariate because in Alaska all felonies must be prosecuted in superior court. Other elements, such as date of police disposition, are not available at all.

Moreover, because Alaska statutes sometimes have no direct NCIC counterpart, the Alaska OBTS program has added for each case the state statutes of arrest, prosecution, and conviction, thus permitting examination of offenses by statute rather than NCIC code. Another important change has been the addition of misdemeanor offenses to the Alaska data base. The result of these improvements is that the SAU has a data base of all felony and misdemeanor cases opened on or after January 1, 1984 and disposed by December 31, 1990.

Allan Barnes is the Director of the Alaska Justice Statistical Analysis Unit and an associate professor with the Justice Center.