U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Public Access to Criminal History Record Information

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 1988
This analysis examines the extent to which criminal history record information is available to the public and other requesters outside the criminal justice system and the appropriateness of this availability.

This information includes records of arrests, detentions, indictments, informations, or any other formal criminal charges, as well as any disposition, sentencing, correctional supervision, and release. The analysis concluded that this information, particularly conviction information, is now more readily available to the public and others than at any time in the recent past. The decline of faith in the rehabilitative ideal and the continuing high level of recidivism appear to be the main factors underlying the demands for more public access to these records. Improvements in the accuracy of data and the use of automation in the handling of criminal history records may have also helped increase these demands. Although legal and administrative restrictions continue to place substantial limitations on public access, policymakers need to examine the issues involved. 165 footnotes.

Date Published: January 1, 1988