Prosecutor's Management Information System

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The Prosecutor's Management Information System (PROMIS) is a database system developed by Inslaw Inc., a Washington, D.C.-based, information technology company.

PROMIS was first developed by Inslaw during the 1970s under contracts and grants from the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA). These guarantees gave the government licenses to use the early versions of PROMIS but not to modify them, or to create derivative works, or to distribute PROMIS outside the federal government. By 1982, because of strong disagreements over a fee-incentive, Modification 12 Agreement to the original contract, the United States Department of Justice and Inslaw Inc. became involved in a widely publicized and protracted lawsuit (see: Inslaw Inc. v. United States Government); however, what follows is intended to be an article on What PROMIS Is and How PROMIS works.

What is PROMIS?[edit]

...Designed as a case-management system for prosecutors, PROMIS has the ability to track people. "Every use of PROMIS in the court system is tracking people," said Inslaw President Hamilton. "You can rotate the file by case, defendant, arresting officer, judge, defense lawyer, and it's tracking all the names of all the people in all the cases."

What this means is that PROMIS can provide a complete rundown of all federal cases in which a lawyer has been involved, or all the cases in which a lawyer has represented defendant A, or all the cases in which a lawyer has represented white-collar criminals, at which stage in each of the cases the lawyer agreed to a plea bargain, and so on. Based on this information, PROMIS can help a prosecutor determine when a plea will be taken in a particular type of case.

But the real power of PROMIS, according to Hamilton, is that with a staggering 570,000 lines of computer code, PROMIS can integrate innumerable databases without requiring any reprogramming. In essence, PROMIS can turn blind data into information. And anyone in government will tell you that information, when wielded with finesse, begets power. Converted to use by intelligence agencies, as has been alleged in interviews by ex-CIA and Israeli Mossad agents, PROMIS can be a powerful tracking device capable of monitoring intelligence operations, agents and targets, instead of legal cases.
—Richard L. Fricker, Wired magazine, 1993, "The INSLAW Octopus".[1]

More from the same article --

PROMIS has the ability to combine disparate databases, and to track people by their involvement with the legal system.

Imagine you are in charge of the legal arm of the most powerful government on the face of the globe, but your internal information systems are mired in the archaic technology of the 1960s. There's a Department of Justice database, a CIA database, an Attorney's General database, an IRS database, and so on, but none of them can share information. That makes tracking multiple offenders pretty darn difficult, and building cases against them a long and bureaucratic task.

Along comes a computer program that can integrate all these databases
—Fricker, Wired

A different author --

Working from either huge mainframe computer systems or smaller networks powered by the progenitors of today's PCs, PROMIS, from its first "test drive" a quarter century ago, was able to do one thing that no other program had ever been able to do. It was able to simultaneously read and integrate any number of different computer programs or data bases simultaneously, regardless of the language in which the original programs had been written or the operating system or platforms on which that data base was then currently installed.

—Michael Ruppert, FTW.[2]

Beyond PROMIS[edit]

Current case management software programs have progressed substantially as referenced by other commercial vendors such as New Dawn Technologies (JustWare), CourtView ([1]), Software Unlimited, LawBase, and CSI Technology Group (InfoShare), competitors of Inslaw Inc.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Fricker, Richard L.; (1993). "The INSLAW Octopus". Wired magazine. pp. ppg. 1–8. Retrieved 2008-08-28. 
  2. ^ Ruppert, Michael (200-09-01). "PROMIS". From The Wilderness. Retrieved 2008-09-17.  Check date values in: |date= (help)

External links[edit]

  • Before PRISM, by Richard L. Fricker, The Oklahoma Observer, July 10th, 2013