Law enforcement and corrections officials could benefit by sharing more information about offenders, corrections leaders told a criminal justice conference in Washington, D.C. Carl Wicklund, director of the American Probation and Parole Association, said that probation and parole officers have informatrion important to law enforcement, such as conditions that probationers and parolees must obey and their drug testing histories. Robert May of the Association of State Correctional Administrators said that law enforcement officers attending conferences on the subject are “stunned by how much information corrections agencies have.” Some information disclosure is restricted by privacy concerns, the speakers said.
Wicklund and May spoke at the annual winter industry briefing of the Virginia-based IJIS Institute, which promotes information sharing in criminal justice. At another session, Bruce Ferrell of the National Alliance of Gang Investigators’ Associations and David Lewis of the U.S. Justice Department discussed ways that law enforcement and other agencies can better exchange information on gang threats. Ferrell said that with mobility so easy among the nation’s 1-million-plus gang members, local police deprtments frequently are unaware of gang backgrounds of criminals who have migrated to their communities. Information can be vital in part because gang homicides tend to be the most difficult to solve, Ferrell said. A 2008 survey found that 58 percent of U.S. law enforcement agencies reported gang activities in their areas.