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Privacy, Technology and Criminal Justice Information: Public Attitudes Toward Uses of Criminal History Information, Summary of Survey Findings

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2000
93 pages
This report summarizes findings from a survey of public attitudes toward uses of criminal history information.
There was substantial public support for making certain types of criminal justice records available outside the criminal justice system when there is a perceived rationale of public benefit and/or safety. Support declined noticeably when the goal was purely private. In general, Americans tended to favor making individual conviction records available to employers, governmental licensing agencies, and other entities. They were far more reluctant however, to support access to arrest only (or arrest without conviction) records. Nearly 90 percent of Americans were concerned about the possible misuse of personal information. Overall, Americans rated the criminal justice system "very or somewhat effective" in investigating and arresting persons suspected of committing crimes, prosecuting accused persons and reaching a just outcome in criminal trials. Seventy percent considered that the system works very well or somewhat well in respecting the civil liberties and constitutional rights of suspects. The report includes statistical data concerning attitudes toward Fair Information Practices, The Role of the Private Sector and Juveniles, Ex-Offenders and Fingerprinting. Tables