BJS: Bureau of Justice Statistics

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ADVANCE FOR RELEASE AT 4:30 P.M. EDT Bureau of Justice Statistics
THURSDAY, September 23, 2004 Contact: Stu Smith 202/307-0784
  After hours: 301-983-9354

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE ANNOUNCES $31 MILLION TO ENHANCE STATE CRIMINAL JUSTICE RECORDS

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Justice Department today announced $31 million in awards to state agencies to improve the completeness, quality and accessibility of the nation's criminal record systems. Since 1995 awards of more than $469 million have gone to all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the territories of Guam, the Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands and Puerto Rico.

Funding is provided under the Department's National Criminal History Improvement Program (NCHIP) and is administered by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) in the Office of Justice Programs (OJP). NCHIP helps the states automate and upgrade records that link to systems administered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), including the National Sex Offender Registry, the National Protection Order File, the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System, the National Crime Information Center and the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS Index), which supports instant background checks on persons attempting to purchase firearms.

Accurate criminal history records improve the nation's security and ensure that disqualified persons are not placed in positions of national trust or given responsibility for protecting the nation's airports or other sensitive areas. Background checks are conducted for a variety of purposes and are often carried out as a condition of employment. In addition, increasing the linkage of records to the FBI's NICS Index also improves the nation's ability to immediately identify persons prohibited from purchase of a firearm.

Complete, accurate and immediately accessible records enable states to:

  • Immediately identify individuals with prior criminal records in any state.
  • More effectively identify felons and others prohibited from firearm purchase.
  • Check backgrounds of persons responsible for child, elder and disabled care.
  • Identify individuals who have a history of domestic violence or stalking
  • Make informed decisions relating to pretrial release and detention of offenders, prosecutions of career criminals and appropriate correctional confinement.

Federal assistance has helped 47 states participate in the FBI's Interstate Identification Index, which is the system for conducting name-based background checks. More than 880,000 protection order records (in 45 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands) help to avert stalking and other crimes and are available for background checks. In addition, more than 355,000 convicted sex offenders (in the 50 states, the District of Columbia and 3 territories) are listed in the National Sex Offender Registry, which obtains the names of individuals covered by registration laws in the states, the District of Columbia and the territories. A background check performed today can immediately search more than 53 million criminal records in 14 different databases.

NCHIP awards are made to state agencies designated by the governor and by the District of Columbia's mayor. Awards are based on the amount requested and current records quality. Additional factors that are considered include the condition of the applying state's records, the anticipated impact the improvements will have on availability of records throughout the national system, the extent to which the state has fulfilled goals of previous NCHIP awards and the technical feasibility of the state's proposal.

Information about NCHIP is available on the BJS website at http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/index.cfm?ty=tp&tid=4. For specific information about a state program, contact the individual listed at: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/nchipadd.htm

OJP provides federal leadership in developing the nation's capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist crime victims. OJP is headed by an Assistant Attorney General and comprises five component bureaus and two offices: the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Office for Victims of Crime, the Office of the Police Corps and Law Enforcement Education, and the Community Capacity Development Office, which incorporates the Weed and Seed program and OJP's American Indian and Alaska Native Affairs Desk. More information can be found at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov

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BJS04096



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