Unlocking History

1986: Remembering when parole went digital

Data entry with parole office as two men look at a computer screen.
San Diego parole digitizes information for a database in 1986.

Leader predicts computers will revolutionize department

In 1986, Parole Administrator Howard Loy reported on the move to digitize the department and what the future might bring in a digital world.

(Editor’s note: July 16-22 is Pretrial, Probation and Parole Supervision Week.)

At the time, CDCR’s parole offices were converting to computerized systems.

“For the past several months, the clerical staff, parole agents and supervisors have been working hand in hand developing a data processing system that will eventually benefit everyone,” Loy wrote. “They are creating something new and working the bugs out. This type of system has never been tried in any state. The staff in San Diego 1 and 3 are creating a system that will modernize parole operations.”

Digital will change parole and entire department

Loy predicted emerging technology, such as computers, was about to significantly change the department.

“As you leave your office to make field contacts, you pick up your portable computer so that you will be able to have all of your information with you,” he wrote. “A field book is no longer needed and scraps of paper are a thing of the past. Sound like a movie in the future? Well, it’s not. Some of the concepts (are) not here yet, but the Parole Division is moving quickly toward a system which will bring information, electronically, to the fingertips of all staff.”

A 1987-88 departmental report notes developing computer systems to automate administrative functions such as training and overtime pay calculations.

Today’s parole agents use smartphones as portable computers, doing much of their work on digital devices, just as Loy predicted four decades ago.

Did you know?

Follow us on YouTubeFacebook and Twitter.