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SEARCH Report Compares and Analyzes State RAP Sheets and Identifies Key Characteristics

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SEARCH has published A Comparison and Analysis of State Criminal History Records: Key Characteristics of RAP Sheets. According to Becki Goggins, Director of Law and Policy, “The report is an inventory and summary of RAP sheet data from 43 states that compares and highlights commonalities and gaps across the states. In addition to presenting information regarding standard data elements contained on RAP sheets, the report also highlights new content added by states designed to provide consumers with concise, easy-to-read summaries of a person’s criminal history.”

The goal of the report is to inform the SEARCH Membership, and the broader criminal justice community, about the actual use of data in RAP sheets and potential changes or additions made to the standardized RAP sheet developed by the Joint Task Force on Rap Sheet Standardization (JTF).

SEARCH collected sample RAP sheets from 43 states between 2020–2022, compared the contents of those RAP sheets against the JTF standard, and assessed how states are using common data elements and how they align with the JTF standard. The report includes detailed findings by RAP sheet section (such as Identification) or segment (such as Arrest, Prosecution, Sentencing). It also includes recommendations for states to consider to enhance the utility of state RAP sheets for their consumers.

SEARCH prepared the report under funding from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), U.S. Department of Justice. The primary authors of the report were Michael Jacobson, Information Sharing Specialist, and Karen Lissy, Justice Information Services Specialist. SEARCH also benefited from the review and feedback of a Working Group comprised of SEARCH Members and other state criminal history repository officials:

  • Nelson Bunn, Executive Director, National District Attorneys Association
  • Tina Cheatham, Criminal Justice Specialist, Alaska Department of Public Safety
  • Kristina Davis, Assistant Division Commander, Criminal Records Division, Washington State Patrol
  • Adam Dean, Deputy Commissioner of Operations and Innovation, New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services
  • Erin Henry, Division Director, Information Services, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation
  • Raechyl Huisingh, Criminal Justice Specialist, Alaska Department of Public Safety
  • Leila McNeill, Criminal Identification Bureau Chief, Idaho State Police
  • Leslie Moore, Director, Information Services Division, Kansas Bureau of Investigation

What is the Joint Task Force?

The Joint Task Force on Rap Sheet Standardization (JTF) was formed to develop a standardized state RAP sheet format. It is an outgrowth of the work of the National Task Force on Increasing the Utility of the Criminal History Record, a joint BJS/SEARCH effort that recommended creating a standard transmission format for the interstate sharing of criminal history record information (CHRI) data. This national task force had determined that improvements were needed to normalize the variety of formats, content and terminology that made it difficult for out-of-state users, and particularly noncriminal justice users, to decipher CHRI records.

The JTF, formed in 1996, included representatives of the FBI Criminal Justice Information Services Division, FBI Advisory Policy Board, SEARCH, Nlets, and representatives of state criminal history repositories.

Over the years, it has produced a series of formats for transmitting detailed, comprehensive CHRI. The most recent JTF RAP sheet is Version 4.1. Nlets and BJS are continuing efforts to support interstate CHRI exchange through the CHIEF project.

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