Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Duval Data Glitches Hamper Criminal Background Checks

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Duval Data Glitches Hamper Criminal Background Checks

Article excerpt


Those who use a Florida law enforcement Web site for criminal background checks involving Jacksonville cases won't find some vital information because the state hasn't been accepting data sent by the Duval County Clerk of Courts Office.

What's missing from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's site are the outcomes of more than two years of trials, plea bargains and other judicial actions in criminal cases. That lack of information means a prospective employer or other user will not learn if a person being checked has been convicted of a crime in Jacksonville for more than the past two years.

The court's submissions contain so many errors that the FDLE won't accept the information about the Jacksonville cases, agency spokesman Tom Berlinger said. Arrest records submitted separately by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office are up-to-date on the site, he said.

Duval County Clerk of Courts Jim Fuller said Monday his office has been submitting the information but is handicapped by an antiquated computer system that cannot handle large amounts of data.

"We send thousands of files to them all the time," he said. "What I wanted them to do is to accept the files that are good and send back the files that are bad."

In a letter to the city last week, FDLE Commissioner Guy Tunnell said the background information is "absolutely critical to the safety of Florida citizens" and "is depended on by many entities within the criminal justice community in making very significant and sometimes life changing decisions."

Judicial decisions, criminal investigations and background checks of those buying firearms or applying for jobs around children, the developmentally disabled and the elderly can all be influenced by information on the site, he wrote.

Duval County, he said, provides a significant percentage of the state's criminal history information. …

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