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Feds Publish Comprehensive Report on the Status of State Criminal History Record Systems and Repositories


survey2012Every 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. 

The most recent survey report, Survey of State Criminal History Information Systems, 2012, was recently released. In it, authors Owen Greenspan and Dennis DeBacco of SEARCH offer readers a glimpse into the kinds of information stored in these systems, and how it’s disseminated and used. 

Besides raw numbers that show how many records exist, the report also explores the types of information states collect, how they get it, and the level of automation involved. It also addresses the timeliness and completeness of the data in the state record systems and touches on steps states are taking to improve data quality.

The Survey of the States is a signature product of BJS and SEARCH. It is often relied upon by decision-makers as being the most current and comprehensive data available on the status of information kept within our nation’s state criminal history record systems. Our Members play an important role in the success of this survey, as well as the success of their individual repositories. These survey results are indicative of the healthy progress the States are making in improving automated processes for collecting and sharing criminal history data.
—Owen M. Greenspan, Director, SEARCH Law & Policy Program

Noncriminal Justice Requests

The report addresses the increasing number of operations and services involving noncriminal justice background checks provided by the state repositories. It outlines which types of information are available through community notification services and who has access to those records. 

Other topics in the report include—

  • procedures for submitting final dispositions to the FBI
  • the types and use of biometric and image-capture devices
  • state repository hours of operation and on-site staff
  • processing noncriminal justice name-based checks. 

For the 2012 survey, SEARCH added new questions to capture more data on wanted persons and disposition reporting. Another new question was aimed at gathering states’ felony conviction flagging capabilities. Results show which states can flag a record if a subject is ineligible to purchase firearms, is a registered sex offender, a convicted drug offender, or a violent offender. 

Mobile Technology

In an attempt to gather information about states’ use of mobile technology, SEARCH added survey questions to learn if and how states transmit fingerprints via mobile devices. States also shared their plans to implement or use mobile technology for identification or booking purposes, to capture biometric information for identification purposes, or to capture non-fingerprint biometric information. 

States shared new information about state disposition reporting laws and charge tracking, indicating whether they collect charge tracking information (interim dispositions) to show case status through the criminal justice process. 

The survey was conducted in early 2013, and the responses are based on data as of December 31, 2012. Survey responses were received from every state, plus American Samoa, 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
  • National Sex Offender Registry, NCIC Wanted Persons and NCIC Protection Order File record counts.

OwenGreenspanOwen M. Greenspan is Director of SEARCH’s Law and Policy Program, which helps agencies and courts develop and implement responsible laws, policies and practices to govern the collection, maintenance, exchange, sharing, and dissemination of justice information. At one time, he was Deputy Commissioner for Identification and Data Systems with the New York Department of Criminal Justice Services, and was responsible for the state criminal history record repository and associated data processing services for more than 3,000 agencies across New York and beyond. 

DennisDeBaccoDennis A. DeBacco is a Justice Information Services Specialist for SEARCH’s Law and Policy Program. He researches and writes about issues that impact criminal justice information management and policy; establishes and supports task forces; conducts surveys on pertinent issues; and provides technical assistance to justice agencies.  For 16 years, he served as Bureau Manager of the Nevada Highway Patrol’s Bureau of Records and Identification Services. He was the principal architect in designing, implementing, and directing Nevada’s central repository for criminal history records and related criminal justice information systems, crime statistics, and fingerprint search services.

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