State Database Missing 55,000 Felons


The Virginia State Crime Commission is asking why 750,000 conviction records — including those for 300 murder and 1,300 rape convictions — are missing from the state database used to run background checks for gun purchases, court sentencing and employment, reports the Washington Post. It turns out that conviction records are entered into the database only when they are accompanied by fingerprints. But the Virginia law-enforcement and judicial systems have a spotty record of taking and preserving fingerprints, especially for misdemeanors and other minor crimes.

Reports the WaPo:

The State Crime Commission first found the problem when looking at dispositions of marijuana cases. It discovered that the court system had reported 11 million convictions on all crimes dating to 2000 but that the database contained only 10.2 million convictions. About 90 percent of the 750,000 missing records lacked fingerprints, while about 10 percent were missing because of other errors.

About 35 percent of the missing cases were felonies. But the 65 percent that are misdemeanors can involve drug charges, assaults, drunken driving and family abuse, any one of which could be disqualifying convictions for someone seeking a gun or professional license. Police officials noted that missing fingerprints could also hamper law enforcement investigations when police find latent prints at a crime scene. …

In a report issued Dec. 3, the commission found that about 55,000 unique individual convicted felons are missing from the database. More than 2,500 robbery convictions and 1,500 weapons convictions are missing.

Creating a robust statewide database of criminal convictions and fingerprints would seem to be a basic too of law enforcement. If Governor Ralph Northam is determined to spend much of Virginia’s multiple tax windfalls instead of giving money back to taxpayers, ensuring the integrity of the statewide conviction database would be a worthy priority.

There are currently no comments highlighted.

9 responses to “State Database Missing 55,000 Felons

  1. I’m sure everyone of those missing criminal entries are marginalized people who would be better served by restorative justice. Have them draw a picture of what they did wrong, hug it out, or just say sorry and move on. Don’t worry about actually documenting bad guys when you can instead just remove the rights of productive citizens… It’s much easier, they actually follow those pesky social constructs.
    I’m sure if we don’t clog the prison pipeline crime will plummet and we can use that money for free college and free healthcare and we now have lower crime numbers because we don’t arrest criminals. Win, win, win, and win!

  2. Agreed on this one. How about crowdsourcing it?

  3. Oh well … we just forgot to fingerprint a few hundred murderers and a thousand or so rapists …

    What? Huh? Really?

  4. wait – how do we NOT get fingerprints for murderers and rapists?

    for that matter how do we not get fingerprints of ANYONE who is a convicted felon and may well have been incarcerated at some point?

    the funny (not) thing is we’re also talking about other states and the national database for gun registration. If Virginia is this bad – is that representative of other states also?

    so much for “enforcing the laws already on the books without new laws” .. narrative, eh?

    sounds like it’s more than just an enforcement issue….

  5. Where’s the accountability in this? Doesn’t the State know which jurisdictions are not entering these fingerprints? Doesn’t it know whether it’s the courts or the Sheriff or whomever who’s messing up with the data entry?

  6. There are a couple of issues that probably account for a large portion of the missing fingerprints:
    1. State Police is dependent on the local police/sheriffs’ departments getting and submitting the fingerprints;
    2. At some point in the past, State Police stopped accepting the fingerprint cards and would accept only fingerprints submitted with Live Scan technology. Many rural localities have been slow to get Live Scan equipment because of the cost and the Crime Commission study goes back many years.

    The Department of Corrections obtains fingerprints for every inmate committed to its custody. It has been working with State Police to fill in some of the holes in the criminal history data (CCRE).

    In general, criminal history data is incomplete due to its local nature. State agencies are dependent on the judges, circuit and district court clerks, sheriffs, and police in over 100 jurisdictions submitting accurate and timely data. In addition, the data systems maintained by the Office of the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court are not designed to be easily used by other agencies.

  7. Thanks for the background. I can understand the Live Scan deployment obstacle. But your last paragraph underscores the “local nature” of the problem.

    Why wait for an arrest to trigger this data base input? Maybe we should all be required to register our fingerprints and eye pupils and obtain national ID cards by age 13 and be done with it — with the newer face recognition programs scanning us wherever we go there’s not much left to so-called individual privacy anyway.

  8. If you have ever watched the TV program, “Person of Interest”, you can get a good idea of what a world in which there is widespread face recognition and surveillance cameras would be like. I would like to keep what little privacy I still have.

Leave a Reply