WASHINGTON: Criminal records used by Washington state’s employers and law enforcement to check individuals with criminal records are incomplete, the auditor’s office confirms. Criminal records for around 30% arrested in 2012 failed to find their way in to the identification system for Washington State. This being the main criminal records database employers and law enforcement reach out in order to confirm individuals. The Washington State Patrol operates the central database with information provided by the state’s law enforcement.
Missing records account for around 55,000 individuals identified in around 81,000 cases. Approximately crimes account for 28,000 of cases ranging from domestic violence, child molestation and harassment. These crimes would bar individuals from numerous state roles within the Dept. Social and Health services. Of the 81,000 cases that have disappeared 89% were gross misdemeanors and the 11% remaining for felonies.
Two reasons were identified for the errant records. Firstly the lack of finger printing and vagaries in then transition of bureaucracy i.e. arrest records through to State Patrol. Finger print issues fall short under ‘cite and release’. Prints are invariably taken at a jail but minor offenses notices are issued to attend court. As a result prints are forgotten. Finger printing ensures arrest records are maintained by sending the information direct to the state criminal records history database. Errors can also occur when an individual who has been arrested attends hospital as opposed to jail. Prints taken at jail are more often than not poor quality and not acceptable by State patrol.
Also courts fail to input “process control numbers” that find their way to judicial databases. This number being required to relay from the database of the judiciary to the Patrol’s database. Recommendations point to prints are taken for all gross misdemeanor arrests. Further that courts and law enforcement use process control numbers. State Patrol also to regularly engage with law enforcement and that records procedures improve within courts. A further process recommends confirmation criminal records are finding their way to the State’s database.
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