July 29, 2013

Criminal Records, NCIC Codes, and the Adam Walsh Act Tier Levels..

7-29-2013 National:

Earlier today was this article: T-Squared: Why We Unpublished Our Prisoner Database which pointed to errors in the coding of Texas criminal records. Some, unknown how many, were incorrectly coded as sex offenses involving a child.

The code is a NCIC code which apparently the state must insert -MANUALLY- before sending that record to the National Crime Information Center which keeps all crimes on record for law enforcement viewing. The FBI has this description of the NCIC Database.
"It’s been called the lifeline of law enforcement—an electronic clearinghouse of crime data that can be tapped into by virtually every criminal justice agency nationwide, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year."
I guess that, based on the article, there are some number of Texas criminal records which are incorrectly coded in the NCIC Database; hopefully they are timely corrected.

My point here is, why is this coding done manually? And if so, is it done manually in every state?

Further research tells us, YES, it is done manually, and in every state; all by hand! So are there other errors? Likely there are, but how many? Unknown number!

We looked to see if any state had some sort of manual describing how they perform this process, there were several, but this Missouri Charge Code Manual shows the process best; even still an amazing spider web of details must be sorted out before deciding on the correct NCIC Code.
In the 2012-2013 Missouri Charge Code Manual, section "11 - Sexual Assault" pgs 17-19, and section "22 - Sexual Offenses" pgs 46-51.

It doesn't take a genius to see, that this is a VERY COMPLICATED process to determine the correct NCIC Code. And, since it is done MANUALLY it is likely ERROR PRONE (Texas article proves it is). Other states must face similar issues.
Where do we go from here? Lawmakers must do something to assure that records are correct, they are Law Enforcement's lifeline!

The Adam Walsh Act:
So, is that the end of this story? No way, maybe folks who follow sex offender issues will remember all the complaints about, how, under the Adam Walsh Act (AWA), many registrants ended up in HIGHER Tier levels than they should have. And in some states they even assigned tiers to registrants even though the state had not yet converted to AWA.

Well, consider this, do states have certain employees that work on sex offender records, when and if they change their laws? Is it possible these are the folks who also assigned NCIC Codes? We really do not know, but the fact that Texas has clearly shown the potential for error, is it time for verification of all criminal records by states? Esp NCIC Codes?

Answers, answers, what are the correct questions? One thing is certain, under AWA there are many in Tier III that claim they do not belong there. Did the state use the NCIC code in their determination of Tier Levels?

Time for folks to start asking questions?

For now, have a great day & a better tomorrow.

PS: Here we addressed "sexual offense" records, but there could be other non sex offense errors as well. Good luck finding them.

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