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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE BJS WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 11, 1995 202-307-0784 FIVE STATES SELECTED FOR SUPPLEMENTAL FUNDING TO IMPROVE CRIMINAL HISTORY RECORDKEEPING WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Maine, Mississippi, New Mexico, West Virginia and Vermont will receive up to $1 million each in federal funds to jump start the automation of their criminal records. Mississippi has computerized 7 percent of its criminal history files, but the other four states have not automated any of their records. The grants from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, a Department of Justice agency, will ultimately enable the states to call up criminal history information quickly, communicate via computer with law enforcement agencies and with other states and tap the criminal history files of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. "The importance of improving criminal history records cannot be overstated," said Jan M. Chaiken, the BJS Director. "Fingerprint-based 'rap' sheets have always been vital for crime investigators, but criminal history records are now increasingly used in other ways, such as identifying serious offenders under 'three strikes' laws, preventing felons from purchasing handguns and screening child care providers." A BJS survey showed that 50 states, U.S. territories and the District of Columbia held almost 48 million criminal history records at the end of 1993. Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Wyoming reported more than 80 percent record automation, and more than 80 percent of all arrests within the last five years had complete dispositions. An additional 11 states--Alabama, Georgia, Hawaii, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Utah, South Carolina and Washington--reported 80 percent automation and between 60 and 80 percent completeness of recent arrest records. Only 37 states flag felony convictions, which is how the computer identifies a disqualifying record. The survey also reported that at the end of last year 29 states were members of the Interstate Identification Index (III), which makes possible the immediate exchange of complete criminal history records among the states and the Federal government. The study was conducted by SEARCH (the National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics), which is meeting with BJS in Sacramento today to address criminal record improvement among the states. Single copies of the report, "Survey of Criminal History Information Systems, 1993" (NCJ- 148951), may be obtained from the BJS Clearinghouse, Box 179, Annapolis Junction, Maryland 20701-0179. The telephone number is 1- 800-732-3277. Fax orders to 410-792-4358. # # # After hours contact: Stu Smith 301-983-9354