WASHINGTON, DC - In an effort to help law enforcement and criminal justice officials more effectively serve and protect Rhode Islanders, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) today announced that the U.S. Department of Justice's (DOJ) Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) is awarding the Rhode Island Justice Commission $168,500 to enhance its ability to track and research criminal history information.

Federal funding will be provided through BJS's National Criminal History Improvement Program (NCHIP) and will help the RI Justice Commission enhance the quality, completeness, and accessibility of its records and build its infrastructure to connect to national record check systems.

"This federal funding will enhance Rhode Island's ability to thoroughly research the criminal background of individuals before they purchase weapons, work with children, or protect our security," stated Reed. "The ability of our law enforcement to be able to have access to and analyze this data in a timely matter is crucial to helping prevent crimes before they happen."

The RI Justice Commission will use the federal funding to create a criminal history disaster recovery system for both the Rhode Island Criminal History (RICH) system and the Rhode Island Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (RILETS). It will also be used to purchase a portable livescan unit for the Rhode Island Office of the Attorney General to be used at courthouses throughout the state and to fingerprint defendants. Additionally, it will provide partial support for court staff to enter disposition backlog data into the criminal history repository.

NCHIP, which began in 1995, helps ensure that accurate records are available for use in law enforcement, including sex offender registry requirements. It provides funding to states to identify people who are ineligible to purchase firearms, people who are ineligible to hold job positions involving children, the elderly, the disabled, or other specified positions, people subject to protection orders or wanted, arrested, or convicted of stalking and/or domestic violence, as well as people who have made threats to public safety.

The funding for this grant comes from the fiscal year 2007 continuing resolution that Reed supported.