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Hawaii Complaint Manager implementation

Hawaii has faced significant challenges in its criminal justice system. Thoughtworks and Public Data Works [1] partnered with the Hawaii Correctional System Oversight System to implement a Complaint Manager, a key element supporting the oversight and transformation of the State's correctional system. This tool provides a standardized method to enhance public transparency and to manage, intake, organize, and respond to complaints and other relevant information received by the Commission.

Hawaii is grappling with serious issues like overcrowded jails and high recidivism rates. Native Hawaiians are overrepresented in the justice system, and per capita incarceration costs are among the highest in the country. Most correctional facilities are outdated and in dire need of maintenance to ensure basic health and safety for staff and people in custody. Additionally, staffing rates and retention are dangerously low, with correctional staff wellness at critical lows. Given these complex conditions, it's crucial to address these issues thoughtfully, based on data, and work towards eliminating systemic bias.


In January 2020, the Hawaii State Legislature established the Commission to address these systemic challenges. This office is mandated to oversee the State's correctional system, investigate complaints, monitor and review the reentry system, and facilitate the transition to a rehabilitative and therapeutic model of corrections.

Oversight bodies, such as the Hawaii Correctional System Oversight Commission, are essential for maintaining safety, accountability, and humane conditions, protecting the rights and well-being of both staff and people in custody, reducing incidents of abuse and misconduct, supporting the implementation of rehabilitative and therapeutic programs, and contributing to better outcomes for correctional staff, individuals in custody, and the community.


In 2022, Christin Johnson was appointed as Hawaii's first Oversight Coordinator, bringing a new vision to the role. With data at the helm of her plan, Christin engaged Thoughtworks to implement the Complaint Manager.

At the outset, in-person research was conducted by Thoughtworks in Hawaii prisons and jails, as well as within the community, to gather context from primary sources. This type of research, which is rarely undertaken, significantly informed the development of the tool to suit Hawaii's unique context.

Thoughtworks custom-designed a case management system to intake, organize, synthesize, and respond to complaints received by the Commission. This system allows staff to efficiently manage complaints, auto-generate system-wide data based on inputs, input and analyze justice system data, report findings, and send response letters with relevant information, enhancing overall efficiency and effectiveness. The Complaint Manager improves the complaint intake process, workflow efficiency, supports the office in prioritizing projects, and identifies trends for recommending policy and practice changes.

Thoughtworks also developed a data webpage that highlights Hawaii's justice system data, issues, myths, and facts—making this information publicly accessible for the first time in Hawaii. Together, the Complaint Manager and the data webpage ensure that the oversight office brings transparency and accountability to their work and mission.




[1] https://publicdata.works/ 


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