Do you really know who people are?
July 24, 2008 10:39 PM   Subscribe

Criminal Searches - Making you feel safer or increasing your fear?

No results for Theodore Kaczynski.
posted by tellurian (44 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Woohoo!! All the criminals are in US states!
posted by pompomtom at 10:42 PM on July 24, 2008

posted by numinous at 10:46 PM on July 24, 2008

Well, I got a little surprise. (No, it's not me.)
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 11:12 PM on July 24, 2008

1) I am appalled that this information is available to the public, for everyone to see.

2) I am looking up everyone I know.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 11:52 PM on July 24, 2008 [5 favorites]

This is just beautiful. I'm on this list. And I'm about to start searching for a job after I relocate to Austin.

My "criminal offense" was for failure to stop at a stop sign. I took traffic school to have it wiped from my record. Why the hell is it showing up on Random Internet Site #123849 after eight years? Who the hell are these people?

Some states include minor traffic offenses in the data that we receive; however, these people might not be actual criminals.

Really? I might not?? How about "ARE NOT"??
posted by zylocomotion at 12:04 AM on July 25, 2008

Babysitter, nanny
Cleaning service, janitor
Construction workers
School teachers
Electrician, plumber, gardener
Your children's friends

Before you agree to that next playdate......
posted by longsleeves at 12:04 AM on July 25, 2008

Unless of course you heard about that thing with the dead handicapped nun.
posted by zylocomotion at 12:05 AM on July 25, 2008

I can totally see my mom looking me up on this thing and then complaining about the unreliability of the internet when she doesn't find me in there.
posted by katillathehun at 12:14 AM on July 25, 2008

Unless of course you heard about that thing with the dead handicapped nun

let's meet in the D.H.N. chatroom, zylo.
posted by longsleeves at 12:18 AM on July 25, 2008

This site is not reliable. I looked up Johnny Cash, and he ain't in there, even though I know he shot a man in Reno. Just to watch him die.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:22 AM on July 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Oh, to hell with it. I've been looking for an excuse to get new tattoo anyway.
posted by zylocomotion at 12:24 AM on July 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

I thought this was going to be one of those sites that sends back a picture of a monkey on a driver's license with your name on it or something.
posted by loiseau at 12:27 AM on July 25, 2008

No hits on 2 people I KNOW have convictions.
posted by Daddy-O at 12:38 AM on July 25, 2008

He fudged his age by a year and a few days.
posted by tellurian at 12:42 AM on July 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Okay, all the high-profile MeFites whose "real" names I know (including the Mods) all seem to be clean, all the offenses under their names were obviously somebody else with the same name of a different age in another state, except for one who apparently shows THREE "O" class crimes - which turned out to be a trio of minor driving infractions (no license, no reg & no lights) from a single incident. No, I'm not saying who.

(And go ahead and look me up; I know you want to. The last name is spelled W-I-T-T-L-E-R, my 'legal' first name is not Wendell, I've lived in California since I was 5 years old and my birthdate's in my profile. I already looked. There's a bad guy in Texas with a first name and birthdate that are close enough to mine that I might think twice about the reliability of local law enforcement before visiting Texas)
posted by wendell at 12:42 AM on July 25, 2008

No hits on 2 people I KNOW have convictions.

Presumably, that's why it's free. Searches of publicly available on-line databases can be done at virtually no cost. The more reliable private databases require either charges or bribes to get access.

And while I don't much like the idea of this thing either, I think it's one of the inevitable costs of an open system of justice, conducted in the public view rather than in some secret gulag, combined with the massive computing power now available to everybody.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:48 AM on July 25, 2008

Holy shit! It's gonna be an interesting family reunion next year.
posted by chillmost at 12:58 AM on July 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

OMG! Boy, you think you know somebody...

I'm not on the list, but seriously, this is not cool.
posted by chillmost at 1:02 AM on July 25, 2008

From the bottom of the page:
All of our information is public domain and is presented "as is". This data is collected electronically and errors do occur. If you feel something has been reported in error please contact us and we will address.
posted by chillmost at 1:03 AM on July 25, 2008

Need More Information?
Get a full comprehensive
background check on
Donald L Kraft or any
other criminal.

Full Name: Donald L Kraft Date of Birth: 01/01/1972
AKAs: Height:
Hair Color:
Eye Color:
Gender: Unspecified


Offense Date:
Bv Behavioral
Bu Business
D Drug & Alcohol
S Sex Related
T Theft
V Violent
O Other
Case Number: 04N9-CR00799
Offense Type: Traffic Offense
Offense Code: 4660800

Wow. They, like, missed six or seven. Juicy ones at that. And, um, "Gender: Unspecified" WTF?
posted by sourwookie at 1:22 AM on July 25, 2008

They seem to have some data integration issues; I looked up a few acquaintances from The Old Days and one who served a conviction of manslaughter (pleaded down from murder one) isn't present in their system, and neither is another acquaintance currently residing in Elmira. On the other hand, several incidents that I have first hand knowledge of appear to have been changed - a violent assault / conviction now shows up as "other" with few details about the actual event.

And date of offense seems to be missing for everyone I looked up.

As this information is not only available but correct in various systems accessible by the general public (I only looked up stuff I'd already seen online) I wonder if they don't have permission, but instead are scraping / otherwise pulling data from existing systems, but without the cooperation of the site owners. Curious.

In any case, this seems to illustrate the lack of US legislation pertaining to personal data, such as the UK's data protection act or the European Union's Directive 95 / 46 regarding "the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data"

Truth be told, I'm not sure if this would be illegal in Europe, but at least there are some policies in place here.

Does the US have anything at all regarding such data?
posted by Mutant at 1:37 AM on July 25, 2008

Criminal convictions are generally a matter of public record, at least for adults. That doesn't seem terribly unreasonable.
posted by ryanrs at 2:21 AM on July 25, 2008

So I'm on IMDB and Criminal Searches? Doesn't that make me Robert Downey Junior? My traffic indiscretions from, er, six years ago come back to haunt. Alas.
posted by maxwelton at 3:32 AM on July 25, 2008

Well, I wasn't in there, which means I can name a couple states that must not contribute their records to this database.

Sadly I was able to confirm what I'd heard about my best friend from high school. First degree, Claude? WTF!?! I hope you have internet access in there so you can see how disappointed I am with you!
posted by JaredSeth at 5:46 AM on July 25, 2008

Pennsylvania's criminal court records have been online at Web Dockets for a while now, at least a year and a half that I'm aware of. Public criminal court records are not a bad thing, as a social worker I used Web Dockets all the time to get background info on clients that the agency needed. If you're working with someone who has a history of sexual violence, women staffers should know that. If one of your clients gets locked up, sometimes this is the only way to find out which facility they're in so you can keep them from getting lost in the system. Without Web Dockets it could take weeks to get this kind of information. If the information wasn't public it would require signed releases that would be next to impossible to obtain.

No hits on 2 people I KNOW have convictions.

Possibly had their record's expunged, but could also be the case that Mutant argues above. PA's system is exhaustive, and I mean has everything on everyone and anyone dating all the way back to the early '70s.
posted by The Straightener at 6:01 AM on July 25, 2008

How is it they don't have Charles frigging MANSON!?!?!
posted by CuJoe at 6:41 AM on July 25, 2008

Be very careful about assuming that you've found the person you're searching for. There are no less than four people listed in my state that match my first, middle, and last names exactly. Three of them were born in the same year. One of them has his birthdate in the same month and year as mine, off by 11 days.

I can easily see someone doing a search on Bit The Mage, in NC, born 2/1962 and finding a match - got to be the same guy, right?

For extra points, my doppelganger has a long history of drink, drugs, trespass, and assaults on females. Lovely. I'm gonna be much more nervous if I ever get pulled over.
posted by bitmage at 6:44 AM on July 25, 2008

Nothing. There goes my street cred.
posted by waytoomuchcoffee at 6:50 AM on July 25, 2008 [2 favorites]

Matthew Haughey gets a hit--failure to use image tag.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 6:52 AM on July 25, 2008

As much as it must suck to get arrested, it must have really sucked to get arrested when you're a black man in your 50s with the unfortunate name of Paris Hilton.
posted by Mitheral at 9:06 AM on July 25, 2008

excellent, i'm not on there. hahaha, my offenses shall remain secret. minor misdemeanors anyway, but it probably helped to be caught in podunk rural counties of midwestern states that don't have the resources to automate court or police records... yet... stay tuned!
posted by PigAlien at 9:34 AM on July 25, 2008

I am appalled at the level of innacuracy here. I made light of this resource by stating that there is no record for Theodore Kaczynski and linking to the record of 'George W Bush of Texas'.
I expected outrage at the ease at which you can retrieve information about your relative/friend/neighbour. Some members queried the site about people in their life. The results were sometimes innacurate. Some users of other systems have pointed out that more accurate and current information can be obtained from other databases*.
The information that you get from is flawed.
I think that this form of information presentation is socially divisive and serves no common good. Those people that should have access to this information can acquire it by other legal channels.
What good is served by providing a flawed set of records to the general public?
*Cost and methods of obtaining the information is not clear.
posted by tellurian at 9:40 AM on July 25, 2008

I think they should add a voting system to this with robot execution drones. Kinda like hot-or-not with uzis. The most unpopular criminals could be tracked down and shot. Viva mob justice! Who trusts our corrupt system anyway?
posted by PigAlien at 9:42 AM on July 25, 2008

So, tellurian, would you prefer that we conduct our judicial processes in secret?

Me, I prefer the transparency. The site could be better, but it provided me some good-to-know information (which I did confirm and find out more details about from another source, but I wouldn't have found anything in the first place without this tool.)
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:48 AM on July 25, 2008

of course, they should add mugshot too! oh... and it might encourage criminals to get makeovers, so that our criminal underclass could more closely match its hollywood representation. I mean, who doesn't want to be terrorized by glamorous criminals? Then again, Ted Bundy and Andrew Cunanan were kinda hot... Maybe they'd still be around!
posted by PigAlien at 9:49 AM on July 25, 2008

I don't want to speak to your particular circumstance TheOnlyCoolTim, because I know nothing of it. But I would say: No. Absolutely not. We should not 'conduct our judicial processes in secret'. The public record is there and it is necessary. This site lists a bunch of traffic violators as criminals because of decades-old offences. Some of the items seems trivial to me. Is it beneficial that this information is given to you? e.g. Other: Traffic offence, 96.6% of 32.4% of 'Other crimes'. I think not. This sort of information is grist to the mill for some and harmful to others.
posted by tellurian at 11:29 AM on July 25, 2008

Hee! I searched for my last name, wondering if I'd come up, and I didn't! But my horrendous cousin did, and boy did I laugh. Day = made.
posted by millipede at 12:49 PM on July 25, 2008

We've had something similar to this in Wisconsin called CCAP for a few years now. It's really addictive at first, what with looking up everyone you know. And it will take a while for you to get over how fantastic it is, that the jerk in high school who used to hassle you all the time has been busted for DUI like three times and did a stretch for cashing bad checks. But after a while the thrill goes and you realize that you just don't care if your office mate got ticketed for speeding eight years ago.

But for those concerned about the privacy aspect, there is an easy way to ensure that your name never shows up in the system: don't get caught. It's been working for me for years.
posted by quin at 2:03 PM on July 25, 2008

This is ridiculous. An old friend of mine--one of the most gentle souls I know--is listed for a "sex crime": "public indecency."

He's a nudist who probably got caught on a private beach.

Not listed as a "sex criminal" in the datebase: probably 90% of the date rapists in the state.....
posted by availablelight at 3:38 PM on July 25, 2008

that the jerk in high school who used to hassle you all the time has been busted for DUI like three times and did a stretch for cashing bad checks.

More like date rape, over and over again.
posted by chillmost at 4:10 PM on July 25, 2008

Wow.... that's an unusual name, it looks like my Grandma's... DOB 1924, like Grandma... in my Grandma's county....

But the crime is "Other" and no details are given? How will I ever know my family's dark criminal past?!
posted by Hal Mumkin at 1:40 AM on July 29, 2008

Wow, there's only one sex offender in my entire zipcode, and his offense was "indecent solitication of an adult." There are 22 sex offenders in my former zipcode.
posted by desjardins at 11:01 AM on July 29, 2008

I doubt these listings are real time like that desjardins. What it means is only one sex offender who was living in your zip code when they were arrested. Probably a good place to be a sex offender, the cops aren't on a look out for it there.
posted by Mitheral at 12:01 PM on July 29, 2008

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