Interstate Identification Index

The Interstate Identification Index, known by the acronym III and informally as "Triple I," is an "index-pointer" system for the interstate and Federal/State exchange of criminal history record information.

Through the III system, the Federal Bureau of Investigation makes available an index listing the names of individuals on whom it maintains criminal history record information. An agency seeking information on a specific individual will submit his or her name to the FBI. The Bureau will match the name against the index and then "point" the information request to the database (either State or Federal) where the requested information is maintained.

The index contains information on persons arrested for fingerprintable felonies and misdemeanors under State or Federal law. It includes identification information (for example, name, birth date, race and gender), and FBI and State identification numbers from each State that has information about an individual. As of December 2012, the III held the criminal histories of nearly 79.4 million individuals. All 50 States and the District of Columbia participate in the III.

Beginning with its inception in 1969, SEARCH advocated for the III index-pointer concept, which allows State criminal history repositories to be the nation's primary criminal history information caretakers. Over the past four decades, SEARCH has participated in extensive discussions, including several rounds of congressional hearings, during which it presented the States' point of view that the national exchange of criminal history records is a partnership between the States and FBI.

The FBI created the III in 1978. SEARCH assisted the FBI in establishing the III by participating in evaluations to test the index for criminal justice and noncriminal justice criminal history record checks.

The FBI contracted with SEARCH to help formulate policies regulating III use, particularly its use for such noncriminal justice purposes as background checks on persons seeking positions of responsibility involving national security, employment with vulnerable populations, money handling and other activities.

SEARCH was a long-time advocate of the National Crime Prevention and Privacy Compact, which was enacted by Congress in 1998 as part of the Crime Identification and Technology Act (Public Law 105-251).

The compact governs III use for noncriminal justice purposes. It is overseen by a Compact Council that works in partnership with criminal history record custodians, end users, and policymakers to regulate and facilitate the sharing of criminal history record information while recognizing the importance of individual privacy rights.

In 1999, SEARCH prepared a comprehensive report, National Crime Prevention and Privacy Compact: Resource Materials, which presented a section-by-section analysis of the compact. The report also describes the basic III framework.

Also in 1999, a SEARCH National Task Force issued a report of conclusions and recommendations after conducting a study to determine the accuracy of identifications resulting from III name-only checks compared to identifications resulting from fingerprint-based searches of the FBI's criminal history files. The report, Interstate Identification Index Name Check Efficacy: Report of the National Task Force to the U.S. Attorney General, also contained the Task Force's evaluation of inaccurate or missed identifications resulting from name checks.

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