New Study Reveals Inaccuracies in State Criminal Record Repositories

 BRB Publications

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

A study entitled ‘New Facts About the Currency and Accuracy of Criminal Records at State Criminal Record Repositories’ released in June of 2016 by BRB Publications, Inc. reveals inaccuracies in state criminal record repositories, as well as the three key reasons why the completeness, consistency, and accuracy of state criminal record repositories could be suspect. The three reasons are:

  • Timeliness of receiving arrest and disposition data.
  • Timeliness of entering arrest and disposition data into the criminal record repository.
  • Inability to match dispositions with existing arrest records.

According to the BRB study:  Employers and state occupation licensing boards often depend on states’ criminal record repositories as primary resources when performing a criminal record background check. However, these entities may not realize that a search of these record repositories may not be as accurate and complete as assumed, regardless if fingerprints are submitted.

The BRB study is based on the most recent ‘Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) Survey of State Criminal History Information Systems, 2014’ released by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in December of 2015 and using statistics complied as of December 31, 2014. Below are some interesting facts used in the BRB study on criminal record repositories from the current BJS survey:

  • 8 states reported 25 percent or more of all dispositions received could not be linked to the arrest/charge information in the state criminal record database.
  • 14 states did not know how many dispositions they had that cannot be linked.
  • 20 states have more than 3 million unprocessed or partially processed court dispositions, ranging from 200 in Michigan to over 1 million in Nevada.
  • 11 states reported a 50+ day backlog between when a felony case is decided and when the record is entered in the state’s criminal history database.
  • 18 states did not know the length of the backlog delay.

The BJS survey found the states with the lowest percentage of arrests in last five (5) years that had final case dispositions recorded in state criminal record repositories were Mississippi (11 percent), Kentucky (19 percent), Alabama (20 percent), New Mexico (20 percent), Colorado (34 percent), Oklahoma (34 percent), Illinois (37 percent), Idaho (39 percent), Ohio (40 percent), and Kansas (41 percent).

The BJS survey found the states with the highest percentage of arrests in last five (5) years that had final case dispositions recorded in state criminal record repositories were Connecticut (98 percent), Delaware (96 percent), Maryland (95 percent), Washington (94 percent), Texas (92 percent), and Alaska (91 percent). The BJS Survey is available at https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/bjs/grants/249799.pdf.

BRB Publications, Inc. is the nation’s premier publisher of references and websites used for locating public records. BRB’s books and electronic products point the way to over 28,000 government agencies, and 3,500 public record vendors who maintain, search, or retrieve public records. To read the BRB study on criminal record repositories, visit https://www.brbpublications.com/documents/crimrepos.pdf.

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