Some 350,000 criminal history reports are issued annually by the Indiana State Police so teachers can be licensed, prospective parents can adopt, and nurses can provide health care. The Indianapolis Star says the police criminal database is full of holes, with gaps in arrest and conviction data so vast that even police say no one should rely on it to provide a complete picture of someone’s criminal past. Of the nearly 1.1 million criminal histories on file, officials in the agency’s record division are confident that about a third of those are complete and accurate. Said Paul Barada, who helps employers conduct background checks. “It’s better than nothing — but just barely.”
With more than a dozen employee vacancies in its records division, state police officials are struggling with a backlog of criminal records on paper that date back to the 1930s. County law enforcement agencies and court clerks don’t always send arrest records, good fingerprints, and conviction information to the state. A Bedford, Ind., company called ProsLink, which collects criminal conviction data from 80 county prosecutors’ offices for the state, has lost an unknown number of criminal convictions to the database. And yet the state police continues to field more requests each year for criminal histories, as more jobs require this background search. The fees range $7 to $39 — with the most expensive searches requiring fingerprints.