Criminal case management refers to either the process of managing the interrelated social needs of a person involved with the criminal justice system so he can successfully reintegrate into society or to the administrative process of managing criminal cases and moving them through a court docket. Both instances have jurisdiction and system-related differences that will affect the actual methodology behind management, depending upon when and how the process is implemented. Commonality exists, however, that allows case management to be evaluated across implementations as a best practice.
The concept of case management of individuals is a social work construct. It assigns one person to manage a client’s entire case. The case manager serves as the coordinator of all the services a client might need to successfully achieve a goal. If a case manager is working with a homeless individual, he would not only try to find the client housing but would also coordinate a job search, help the client secure public benefits, or arrange for substance abuse treatment. The case manager makes calls, sets up appointments, tracks down the client, helps fill out paperwork, and matches the client to appropriate programs.
In criminal justice, case management matches a convicted person with a single point of support. The case manager coordinates social services, liaises with law enforcement, helps satisfy release conditions, and ensures the client has everything he needs to successfully transition back into society. Criminal case management differs from regular social work case management in the depth of the level of involvement of the case manager with the client. A case manager in the criminal context typically has a much closer relationship with the client that can have therapeutic components.
Criminal justice systems are ordinarily concerned about recidivism and successful navigation of probation requirements. There are proponents that believe criminal case management is an indispensable part of the process of reintegration. Others feel it is a waste of resources.
Another type of criminal case management is the court procedure imposed by a chief justice on the trials happening in his circuit. A chief justice establishes a business plan for court cases that describes for attorneys handling cases how things will proceed in court and on the docket. In tandem with this is the ordinary case management done by attorneys to keep track of important details and documents in a case. There are commercial software packages available from a number of companies that have systematized criminal case management to make it easier for attorneys to do their jobs.