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National Criminal History Improvement Program


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                          BJS
JULY 12, 1995                         202-307-0703


     WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Twelve states will
receive a total of more than $20 million to
improve their criminal history records systems as
part of the first awards made under the $88
million National Criminal History Improvement
Program (NCHIP), the Justice Department announced

     "These grants will help make the Brady Bill
work, but they do so much more," said Attorney
General Janet Reno.  "Complete, accessible records
can help law enforcement prevent crimes before
they occur.  We are a long way from a national
system, but today's grants help us get there." 

     NCHIP is designed to implement the grant
provisions of the Brady Handgun Violence
Prevention Act and the National Child Protection
Act, which was enacted in 1993.

     The NCHIP grants will help states speed up
their participation in the FBI's National Instant
Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which
will enable all states to have immediate access to
full interstate records.  The planning and
implementation of NICS, which should be fully
operational in 1998, is consistent with the
legislatively established timetable.

     The states receiving awards and the amounts
     Arkansas, $659,390       
     California, $3,405,542        
     Georgia, $1,500,000      
     Iowa, $792,036      
     Missouri, $1,619,570          
     Nebraska, $830,330       
     New York, $4,792,375
     North Dakota, $556,365        
     Pennsylvania, $2,632,984
     South Carolina, $1,145,955
     Utah, $642,653
     Vermont, $1,975,279

     Washington, D.C., is also receiving $50,000
in technical assistance.  

     "These awards will make it easier to keep
felons from illegally purchasing firearms,
identify repeat criminal offenders subject to
'three strikes' laws, prevent sex offenders from 
working with children and the elderly, and avoid
the pretrial release of offenders who pose a
danger to the community," said Dr. Jan Chaiken,
Director of the Bureau of Justice Statistics
(BJS), the Justice Department agency that
administers NCHIP.

     The states receiving awards announced today
collectively hold over one-third (34 percent) of
all criminal history records in the nation. 
Criminal history records are fingerprint cards or
their electronic counterparts, linked with
information about arrests, convictions and
sentences, when available.

     Of the 50 million criminal history records in
the United States, half are accessible nationally. 
But only a quarter (28 percent) are both
accessible and include dispositions.  Records are
inaccessible electronically to other states if
they are not automated or if a state does not
participate in the national system (Interstate
Identification Index, III.)  Records without
dispositions delay inquiries or handicap law
enforcement in the identification of those with a
prior conviction.    

     The states receiving awards today were among
the first to apply.  Every state that applies will
receive an NCHIP award this year.  Vermont was one
of five states designated in December 1994 as a
"priority" state because it currently has no
automated criminal history records.  Each of the
priority states will receive $1 million
supplemental assistance as part of its award to
accelerate their automation process.    

     A total of $100 million was appropriated for
NCHIP in Fiscal Year 1995.  Of this amount:
    $88 million will be awarded directly to
     states to automate their criminal history
     record systems and improve the accuracy,
     completeness, timeliness and accessibility of
     criminal history records;
    $5 million is being used to provide direct
     technical assistance to the states and to
     evaluate the program;
    $6 million was transferred to the FBI for
     implementation of the National Instant
     Criminal Background Check System (NICS).     
    $1 million is for administering and
     monitoring the program.

                       # # #

After hours contact:  
Harri J. Kramer 301/229-4861 
or Chris Rizzuto 703/525-1792

Date Published: July 12, 1995