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Criminal Justice Information Services Division

Criminal Justice Information Services Division

Statement of Charles W. Archer, Assistant Director, Criminal Justice Information Services Division, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Before Subcommittee on Immigration Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, Washington, D.C., May 1, 1997.

Good morning Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee. I am Charles Archer, assistant director of the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services Division, otherwise known as CJIS. We are now headquartered in our new complex in Clarksburg, West Virginia. Our primary mission is to provide the criminal justice community with fingerprint identification and related information services. This involves the positive identification of individuals based on fingerprints, and the provision of criminal history information on a national and international basis to authorized users of our services.

In 1924, the United States Attorney General was authorized by congress to begin collecting fingerprint and arrest record information voluntarily submitted for federal and state arrests. The Attorney General then delegated this responsibility to the FBI. At that time, our operations began with 810,000 fingerprint cards. Today the CJIS Division is the world's largest fingerprint repository. Our current file holdings of fingerprint cards in our possession total over 219 million. These include over 132 million criminal cards and almost 87 million civil cards. The 132 million criminal cards represent 36.1 million individuals who have been arrested and/or convicted of a criminal offense in the United States. This figure grows by over 5,000 each day.

To capsulize this data into a one-year time frame, during fiscal year 1996, the CJIS Division received over 11.2 million fingerprint cards, both criminal and civil, an increase of 12.5% over the previous year. This was a significant milestone for us, marking the highest number of fingerprint card receipts since the height of world war II. The processing of these fingerprint cards resulted in over 3.5 million identifications being made against existing records, including over 66,000 fugitives being identified. Even though the submission of arrest and disposition data by contributing agencies is strictly voluntary, the volume of fingerprint and related data submitted for processing and associated with the CJIS Division's data base is unmatched anywhere in the world.

I would now like to briefly outline for you CJIS's role in maintaining and distributing criminal history records for authorized users. A criminal history record begins when an individual is arrested by a law enforcement officer. At that time, three fingerprint cards are generally prepared by the arresting agency. One card is kept at the local level. Two cards are forwarded to the state identification bureau for processing prior to one card eventually being submitted to the CJIS Division. Today, this fingerprint card contains the arrestee's inked and rolled or electronically scanned fingerprints, personal descriptive data, and relevant data identifying the arresting agency and the offense(s) charged. Once the arrest fingerprint card is received, it is compared against our criminal history data base to determine if this individual has been previously arrested. When an existing criminal history is positively identified, the information pertaining to the new arrest is added to the already existing criminal record. If no match is made against an existing record, the new record is added to the file. Once the case is adjudicated, an appropriate disposition notice should then be sent to CJIS reflecting the final outcome. Upon receipt of this criminal history record information, the corresponding record is updated to include the most recent information.

The FBI, under the auspices of Public Law 92-544, may provide criminal history record information stored in the identification records system to criminal justice agencies for criminal justice purposes; and to noncriminal justice agencies for noncriminal justice purposes that have been authorized by federal executive order, federal law, or state law approved by the United States Attorney General. Today the CJIS Division provides these critical identification services to over 70,000 authorized customers nationwide, including all levels of criminal justice, licensing and regulatory agencies. The CJIS Division also exchanges records with the United States military, and agencies such as federally chartered or insured banking institutions, segments of the securities industry, registered futures associations, and nuclear power plants to promote or maintain the security of these institutions. Record checks are also conducted on individuals seeking employment as child-care workers, educators, and foster care providers, among others. These services play a vital role in the identification and apprehension of dangerous criminals, as well as being a critical component in the process of ensuring the safety and well being of all our citizens who come in contact with people in positions of trust and confidence in these agencies and institutions.

Now that I've presented a brief synopsis of the work we perform in general within the CJIS Division, I would like to detail the type of work we perform at the request of, and in support of, the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Title 8 of the Code of Federal Regulations, aliens and nationality, requires aliens to submit a complete set of fingerprints when submitting applications for many purposes, among them are naturalization (citizenship), registration as a permanent resident, requests for asylum in the United States, and applications from American citizens seeking to adopt foreign children. It is under the auspices of this authority that the CJIS Division conducts fingerprint based record checks against its data base for the INS. FBI fingerprint checks are the only practical and positive means for determining if an individual has an arrest record on file with the FBI.

The INS has historically been one of the largest contributors of fingerprint cards to the FBI's CJIS Division. In fiscal year 1996, INS submitted 1,812,893 fingerprint cards to the FBI for checking against the CJIS criminal history data base. For the first half of fiscal year 1997, we have received 1,367,379 fingerprint cards from the INS. If this rate of submission continues CJIS will receive approximately 2.8 million fingerprint cards from the INS during this fiscal year. This represents an increase of over 35% in just one year.

To address this burgeoning workload, the CJIS Division is moving ahead with the development and implementation of the integrated automated fingerprint identification system, known as IAFIS. When fully operational in 1999, IAFIS will enable us to handle a larger workload and provide for a tremendous reduction in the time required to process and positively identify subjects based on fingerprint data. IAFIS is designed to respond to fingerprint submissions within a time frame of two to twenty-four hours. In the interim, Director Freeh has authorized the hiring of 1,100 new employees to reduce the process time. I am pleased to advise the subcommittee that to date 629 new employees have been hired and are now being trained to address this heavy workload.

In closing, I would like to thank you for inviting me to testify before your subcommittee regarding our fingerprint identification and related information services. I am ready to answer any questions you might have.


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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).