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Be Aware of the Shortcomings of State Criminal Record Repositories

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Mike Sankey, BRB Publications, Inc.


27 September 2005. The completeness, consistency and accuracy of state criminal record repositories vary from state to state. There is no overall standard or federal law that determines how records of crimes (misdemeanors or felonies) are collected, indexed, searched or used. The following statistics represent research taken from BRB Publications' Public Record Research System and from the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics.


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According to a Survey of State Criminal History Information Systems, which was released in 2003:

1. Only 32 states require prosecutors to report to state repositories a decision to decline prosecution of a case.

2. Only 35 states and the District of Columbia require law enforcement officials to notify the state repository when an arrested person is released without formal charging, but after fingerprints were submitted.

3. Only 42 states use computer edit and verification programs as part of data quality procedures.

4. Only 21 states report that they received final felony trial court dispositions for 70% or more arrests within the last 5 years.

5. Only 10 states report they received 100% of final trial court dispositions.

6. The overall average is 13.7 days between the date of the final court disposition and the receipt of fingerprints by the state criminal record agency. The range is 1 to 169 days (MS is 169).

7. The overall average is 14.4 days between the receipt of fingerprints and entry into the state database. The range is 1 day to 180 days (OK is 180).

The bottom line: When performing a criminal record search, proper due diligence requires additional searching at the county level.

2005 BRB Publications, Inc. all rights reserved.


Mike Sankey is President of BRB Publications, Inc.


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Created: 27 September 2005
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