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Home > Privacy and Government > Government Threats to Privacy > Public Records > Judicial Records > Criminal Records

Criminal Records

In the area of criminal records, the tension between privacy and the public's interest in access is highest.

Criminal matters will often reveal personal, private, and very sensitive information about victims and witnesses. Every bit of caution should be used to ensure that access to case files in criminal matters does not facilitate witness intimidation, other crimes, or invasions of privacy by the press and public.

On the other hand, the public has a strong interest in knowing what has happened in criminal cases. The public has a legitimate need to know the identity and actions of those accused, those acquitted, and especially those convicted of crime.

Privacy claims of convicted criminals should be regarded very skeptically. Legitimate claims to privacy do not include hiding true facts from people with a genuine interest in knowing them. Even if they have served their full sentences, criminals should never be able to use 'privacy' as a way of avoiding the stigma and shame that attaches to crime.


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[updated 10/17/02]

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