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Biennial Survey Results Offer a Snapshot of State Criminal History Information Systems & Operations at Year-end 2014


Every two years since 1989, SEARCH has worked with the Bureau of Justice Statistics to survey the state central repositories of criminal history records for an in-depth look into their systems and operations.

Last week, BJS released the results of the 13th such survey—Survey of State Criminal History Information Systems, 2014—and it provides the most current and comprehensive snapshot of data, trends, improvements, and practices spanning repository and criminal history operations.

survey-snapshotFor the latest biennial effort, SEARCH surveyed all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five territories (American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands).  Data collected reflect repository systems and operations as of December 31, 2014.

SEARCH staff Becki Goggins and Dennis DeBacco administered the survey, collated and analyzed results, and prepared the report.

It offers a unique glimpse into the kinds of information stored in these systems, and how it is disseminated and used. Survey readership includes U.S. Senators and members of the U.S. House of Representatives, state governors, state attorneys general, researchers, public and law school libraries, and public and private security entities—as well as criminal history record system administrators and managers. (See a related blogpost that examines trends in these surveys from 1992 to 2014.)

The report contains 36 data tables containing raw numbers and responses concerning record and offender counts, record flagging and access, disposition reporting, arrest/fingerprint reporting, rap back services and more.  The report explores the types of information the states collect, how they get it, and the level of automation involved.

This survey is a singular effort of BJS and SEARCH. For more than 25 years, it has offered decision- and policymakers the most up-to-date and complete data on the status of information kept within our nation’s state criminal history record systems. The 2014 edition was revised to collect information on new and emerging information sharing practices, often suggested by users and survey respondents. These changes include providing more data on wanted persons and disposition reporting, charge tracking and record flagging, livescan usage by repositories, and rap back services. We are pleased to offer this resource to all those interested in how criminal history data are collected, maintained, and used.

—Becki Goggins, Director, SEARCH Law & Policy Program

The survey was conducted in early 2015. SEARCH received survey responses from every state, plus the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico.

In addition to the States providing input into the survey report, the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division (FBI CJIS) contributed information related to the following:

  • Interstate Identification Index (III)
  • National Fingerprint File (NFF)
  • National Crime Prevention and Privacy Compact
  • Record counts in the NCIC Wanted Person and NCIC Protection Order Files.
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