Criminal Justice Records
Which agencies keep arrest and conviction records?
All of the agencies that constitute the criminal justice system keep records of arrests and convictions: police, prosecutors, courts, probation departments, prisons, parole boards, and the many subsidiary agencies that serve each of these.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation maintains records with arrest and conviction information submitted by local, state, and federal agencies. A federal statute authorizes the FBI, as the agent of the attorney general, to "acquire, collect, classify, and preserve identification, criminal identification, crime, and other records" and to "exchange these records with, and for the official use of, autrized officials of the federal government, the states, cities, and penal and other institutions."1
How many people in the United States have an arrest record?
Between one-fourth and one-third of the total work force has a criminal history record, according to a 1985 survey.2 It is likely that minorities are the subject of a disproportionately high number of criminal records since blacks are arrested four times more frequently than whites. Nearly half of those arrests of blacks did not end in conviction. In 1980, blacks accounted for about 29 percent of all records in the FBI's files, nearly triple the percentage of blacks in this country.3
The FBI maintains data about individuals who have been arrested on a document known as an identification record, commonly referred to as a "rap sheet." The rap sheet identifies the contributor (the local, state, or federal agency that provided the information), the name and physical description of the subject, the date and charge of each arrest, and (sometimes, but not always) dispositions. The FBI also keeps fingerprint cards on people who have been arrested.
What is the National Crime Information Center (NCIC)?
The NCIC primarily serves as a national database available