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CICJIS is an integrated computer information system that links these state-level criminal justice agencies - law enforcement, prosecution, courts, adult corrections and juvenile corrections - to create one virtual criminal justice information system. This enables all criminal justice agencies to track offenders through the criminal justice system from arrest and prosecution to adjudication and incarceration. To accomplish this, CICJIS performs two core functions: real-time transfer of shared data and interactive access to data stored on remote systems.

The criminal justice system relies upon common data to track offenders through the process. Historically, each agency developed its own information systems to meet its unique business needs. Much of the data was required by all and was re-keyed into each system.

CICJIS eliminates the need for redundant data entry of this common data through the use of real-time data transfers.

Legacy systems have been modified to trigger data transfers at key stages in the process. Arrest information is transferred to the prosecutors and courts when an offender is fingerprinted. Charges are filed electronically by the prosecutors with the courts. Sentence data is automatically transferred to adult and juvenile corrections.

Sharing data is the foundation of CICJIS because it has compelled standardization of the format and content of data across all of the systems. Each agency's information system evolved over many years to meet its own unique needs. While each contains detailed data unique to its business, none provides a complete view of the entire system. Queries provided by CICJIS fulfill this function and enable users on any system to view information stored on another system. Each system presents these queries to their users as if they were an extension of their own system. This provides the end-users with an interface to this information that reflects the look and feel of their own system.

CICJIS is a virtual database because it provides access to information contained on each of the five systems without unnecessary data duplication between the agencies' legacy systems. Through the use of a three-tier, middleware architecture, a user on any of the five systems can view information contained on another system as if it were stored locally. Transparent, real-time access to criminal justice information is the ultimate goal of CICJIS.