People often desire to know the criminal histories of their neighbors, acquaintances and coworkers, often for reasons of safety and security, for both them and their families. This information often includes whether someone is currently on, or has been on, probation. Due to federal and state law, getting this information is often as easy as calling the local court system, or even searching an online directory. In only a few minutes one can access an extensive amount of information, easily and legally.
Gather Identifying Information
Attain as much identifying information as possible about the individual whose records are desired. As many times criminals may be listed under a variety of aliases and names, to get the most accurate records possible it is preferable to have the most complete information. Pima County, Arizona, for example, allows records to be searched by "name, case number, or citation number." The more information that can be provided, the more likely records will be found, quickly and easily.
Figure Out the Location
Get a general idea of where the person in question may have been arrested, convicted or placed on probation. While criminal records are often shared between different agencies, there is no guarantee that probation rolls will overlap. In addition, the locality which did the sentencing will likely have the most accurate and up-to-date information.
Contact the National Institute of Corrections
Contact the jurisdiction in which the person would be on probation and inquire as to the specific policy in accessing and releasing records related to parole or probation. The National Institute of Corrections provides a Probation and Parole Directory that provides access to information about probation and parole agencies in the U.S., Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Island.
Use Information Wisely
Be careful what you do with the information you've acquired. There are laws about how information obtained can be used, especially when hiring. For example, under the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, you have to notify someone if you refuse to hire them or terminate or demote an existing employee based on their criminal history. State laws may give more protection about the contents of criminal history checks. If you're not sure what you can do with the information you've gathered, it is good to check with your attorney or an expert for assistance.
- prison wire image by robert mobley from Fotolia.com