Limited 'Voided Arrest' Data From Federal, State, and Local Agencies

GAO-02-209R: Published: Nov 30, 2001. Publicly Released: Nov 30, 2001.

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Paul L. Jones
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A "voided arrest" is any arrest resulting in the release of a person without the filing of formal charges, dismissal of proceedings against the person arrested, or a determination that the arrest was without probable cause. GAO's ongoing review of the number of "voided arrests," originally intended to support the Clear Your Good Name Act, was closed out because of the impact of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the legislative agenda in Congress. Complete data on the number of "voided arrests," as defined by the Clear Your Good Name Act (H.R. 1154) that occur at national and state levels are not available. None of the federal, state, or local agencies GAO contacted use the term "voided arrest." They do not have data for the category "voided arrests," and the data that they have do not include all arrests in those jurisdictions that can be considered "voided arrests" as defined by H.R. 1154. The Bureau of Justice Statistics and the state criminal history record repositories generally have data for the arrest disposition categories of prosecutor declinations and dismissals, and these dispositions can be considered "voided arrests." However, prosecutor declinations and court dismissals occur for many reasons, and obtaining and analyzing data on these would be extremely difficult and time-consuming.

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