Criminal History Records Information Sharing (CHRIS)


Comprehensive criminal history records are often referred to as Rap Sheets, and contain various data identifying the subject of the record.

In the U.S., state central repositories hold the statutory authority to collect and maintain criminal history records, to retrieve the records, and to guarantee the records are accurate and up to date. At the federal level, the FBI functions as a criminal history information repository for federal offender information, and maintains an Interstate Identification Index (III) that permits authorized requestors to determine whether any state or federal repository maintains a criminal history record about a particular subject. Both state and federal statutes establish clear rules and regulations governing the dissemination of criminal history records to criminal and noncriminal justice users.

For more than forty-five years, Nlets has provided its users with CHRI data from state and federal repositories via a standardized, secure and efficient methodology. This capability provides a way for the states and the FBI to respond automatically to requests from other users over the Nlets network.


The U. S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs’ Bureau of Justice Statistics has recently defined a requirement to conduct national criminal history research data collection and analysis by automating CHRI via information services developed and provided by Nlets. These services will provide BJS with the capacity to conduct national criminal history research and reduce the burden on the states in supporting that research.

This project addresses a strategy for developing and implementing information services on behalf of BJS, as well as securing and protecting the information that will be provided and maintained in such a manner as to meet federal data confidentiality and privacy requirements, and to prevent dissemination to unauthorized individuals.

Nlets will develop information services to support the BJS requirement to access CHRI data derived from the FBI III and state repositories. Specific tasks/objectives were derived from a Memorandum of Understanding among BJS, Nlets, and the FBI CJIS Division.


  1. Nlets will provide BJS the capability to request and/or obtain electronic criminal history records.
  2. Nlets and BJS will design, develop, and implement a standard format, record layout, and process for accessing criminal history records.
  3. Nlets and BJS will develop and implement a simplified uniform criminal history record format to facilitate BJS’s statistical analysis.
  4. The format will represent a single individual’s criminal history record and will be composed of CHRI received from any/all states and territories and the FBI.
  5. Nlets will ensure all information received by BJS from Nlets will be maintained in such a physical and administrative manner, as to meet Federal data confidentiality and privacy requirements and prevent dissemination to unauthorized individuals.
  6. Nlets will develop a security inspection and audit process for BJS in accordance with the Security Plan.


In recent years, the federal government's need for information from state, local and tribal justice agencies has increased in terms of the quantity and the complexity of data required, and in terms of the speed with which information must be provided. The development and implementation of information sharing architectures and services will support and enhance BJS’ capacity to comply with information needs arising from the recent implementation of various federal legislation.

Improved information services will also support the BJS administration of the National Criminal History Improvement Program (NCHIP) and other programs which provide grants to states, tribes and territories for the purpose of improving the nation’s criminal history records, and to facilitate and report on recidivism research.

Finally, improved information services and access to criminal history records will enhance the BJIS capacity to inform evidence-based policy and practice regarding efforts to reduce recidivism at national, state and local levels.