PI: Luis Zuluaga and Tamas Terlaky

University: Lehigh University

OPTAMO is a Lehigh University start-up company headquartered in Bethlehem, PA, at the Ben Franklin Technology Ventures Incubator. The Optamo team has developed a first-of-its-kind Inmate Assignment Decision Support System (IADSS). The PA Department of Corrections (PADOC) has been using IADSS for the daily assignment of inmates in over 25 institutions since September 2016. IADSS has saved the PADOC about $3M in its first year of implementation and $19M over five years.

During incarceration, inmates are offered various rehabilitation and vocational programs. At any point in time, thousands of inmates are enrolled in programs in state or federal correctional systems. Rehabilitation programs play an even more important role in correctional systems with indeterminate sentencing where inmates may be paroled if they successfully complete the required rehabilitation programs. Conventionally, scheduling rehabilitation programs in correctional systems is decentralized, manual and sequential, leading to inefficient utilization of resources, unnecessary long program waiting times and waiting lists, human-error prone decision making, unfair biased allocation of inmates, and increased inmate populations.

In this project, the researchers focus on a proof-of-concept for optimizing the detailed scheduling of rehabilitation programs in correctional systems. In collaboration with Optamo and the PADOC with over 40,000 inmates, the researchers develop a prototype solution to optimize the scheduling process using advanced analytics and operations research methodologies. The PADOC will provide data and description of the procedures related to scheduling treatment programs. The advanced prescriptive analytics developed in this project will enable Optamo to develop a product to optimize the scheduling of treatment programs at PADOC and beyond. The Commonwealth will benefit from reduced recidivism, better prepared inmates for the workforce, and decreased operational costs. The mathematical optimization model incorporated in this solution can in turn be used by all state departments of corrections and the Federal Bureau of Prisons for optimizing the detailed scheduling of their treatment programs.