DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE AWARDS $26 MILLION TO ENHANCE STATE CRIMINAL JUSTICE RECORDS
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Department of Justice today announced awards of $26 million to state agencies and tribes to improve the completeness, quality and accessibility of the nation's criminal record systems. Of this amount, nearly $5 million was awarded to 21 states to improve coordination and enhance the accuracy of data entered into local, state and national databases on stalking and domestic violence.
"These awards will improve the accuracy of criminal history records and ensure that qualified persons are placed in positions of trust and other sensitive areas," said Regina B. Schofield, Assistant Attorney General for the Department's Office of Justice Programs (OJP). "Improving linkage of records between state and federal agencies additionally improves the nation's ability to immediately identify persons prohibited from purchasing a firearm."
Funding is provided under the Department's Criminal History Improvement Program (NCHIP) and is administered by OJP's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). NCHIP helps the states automate and upgrade records that link to systems administered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), including the National Sex Offender Registry, the National Protection Order File, the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System, the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS Index), which supports instant background checks on persons attempting to purchase firearms.
Complete, accurate and immediately-accessible records enable states to identify individuals with prior criminal records in any state; more effectively identify felons and others prohibited from firearm purchase; check backgrounds of persons responsible for child, elder and disabled care; identify individuals who have a history of domestic violence or stalking; make informed decisions relating to pretrial release and detention of offenders, prosecutions of career criminals and appropriate correctional confinement; and fully maintain a state-wide sex offender registry that can be shared with the FBI and the recently-activated National Sex Offender Public Registry (NSOPR).
Department of Justice assistance has helped 48 states participate in the FBI's Interstate Identification Index, which is the system for conducting name-based background checks. More than 940,000 protection order records (in 46 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands) help to avert stalking and other crimes and are available for background checks. In addition, more than 400,000 convicted sex offenders (in the 50 states, the District of Columbia and three territories) are listed in the National Sex Offender Registry, which obtains the names of individuals covered by registration laws in the states, the District of Columbia and the territories. A background check performed today can immediately search more than 61 million criminal records in 14 different databases.
A key feature of NCHIP has been the recurring measurement of criminal record data quality in each state. Since the program's inception in 1995, the Department of Justice has awarded almost $495 million to all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the territories of Guam, the Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands and Puerto Rico through NCHIP. The number of automated and shareable criminal records has grown more than 80 percent and the overall quality and completeness of records has increased four-fold.
Additionally, OJP granted three awards under the second year of the Tribal Criminal History Record Improvement Pilot Program (T-CHRIP), a financial and technical assistance effort designed to assist Native American tribes to improve the accuracy, completeness and interstate availability of criminal history records by automating the capture and reporting of fingerprints to tribal, state, and national databases. The Montana Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes ($86,477), the Michigan Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa ($21,834), and the Arizona Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation ($49,936) received funding to purchase and install electronic live-scan fingerprinting equipment to better identify individuals for both criminal and non criminal justice purposes and allow tribal criminal history data sharing with state and national data systems.
Information about NCHIP is available at www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/nchip.htm. Award amounts by state are listed below.
The Office of Justice Programs provides federal leadership in developing the nation's capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice and assist victims. OJP is headed by an Assistant Attorney General and comprises five component bureaus and two offices: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; and the Office for Victims of Crime, as well as the Office of the Police Corps and Law Enforcement Education and the Community Capacity Development Office, which incorporates the Weed and Seed strategy and OJP's American Indian and Alaska Native Affairs Desk. More information can be found at www.ojp.usdoj.gov.