DOJ Reports on States’ Criminal Records Shortcomings
Andrew Collins, Investigations and Research Manager
Our clients often ask us: Why is it necessary to use multiple resources when conducting due diligence investigations and background checks? Isn’t a simple county or state criminal record search all we need to do?
The latest Survey of State Criminal Record Repositories released by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) makes clear that relying on a single source of information can be fatally flawed. The DOJ has reported that states have as many as over three million court dispositions that have not been put into their searchable repositories.
State criminal recordkeeping is fraught with delays and gaps. 11 states allow at least 50 days to pass after a felony court case is decided before that case is recorded; 18 states report not knowing how much time passes before a decision is recorded. Perhaps even more worrisome, some states report that more than a quarter of all court dispositions couldn’t be linked with individuals’ arrest records – in some instances these cases, some involving serious crimes, cannot be easily found.
Our takeaways from the DOJ’s report:
1. State criminal recordkeeping processes have substantial gaps
2. These gaps, if not plugged, can allow important information to be missed, causing bad employees to be hired, and allowing bad actors to defraud
3. Utilizing county records, multiple states’ criminal and civil records, multiple databases, media and other research often yields vital information that can protect you and your organization