Washington State Criminal Records Database Missing Dispositions

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Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

A Performance Audit from the Washington State Auditor’s Office – “Improving the Completeness of Washington’s Criminal History Records Database” – has found that a third of the dispositions reported in the Judicial Information System (JIS) in 2012 were missing from the Washington State Identification System (WASIS). The audit report is at http://www.esrcheck.com/file/WA-Criminal-History-Records.pdf.

The Performance Audit matched calendar year 2012 disposition records in JIS to those in WASIS and found that 33 percent were missing. Eleven percent of the missing dispositions were for felony offenses, while 89 percent were gross misdemeanors. The most common offenses missing dispositions were driving under the influence, third degree theft, and fourth degree assault – all gross misdemeanors.

Overall, the Auditor’s Office found that 81,000 case dispositions involving 54,462 people in 2012 had missing information. According to the audit: “Dispositions were missing for thousands of people for offenses that would disqualify them from jobs and volunteer positions with vulnerable populations.” The audit found dispositions were missing for two primary reasons:

  • The person arrested was never fingerprinted.
  • Vital information was not included when the disposition was entered into JIS.

Since WASIS is used to conduct background checks for individuals working with vulnerable populations, the audit analyzed the results and found that more than half of the individuals with missing dispositions had at least one missing disposition for an offense on the state’s Department of Social and Health Services’ list of disqualifying offenses that include harassment, child molestation, and domestic violence.

To improve the completeness of WASIS, the audit recommends the Washington State Patrol seek changes to state laws and rules to ensure all people arrested are fingerprinted and all dispositions are properly entered. The Patrol should also work with local law enforcement agencies and courts to help them identify and improve weaknesses in their processes to report arrests and dispositions.

As reported by ESR News in May 2015, an audit by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office found some Ohio courts are failing to follow a state law requiring them to report criminal convictions to the Bureau of Criminal Identification (BCI) resulting in “a technologically unreliable” criminal background check system. For blogs about criminal databases, visit http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/tag/criminal-databases/.

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