Finding someone’s criminal record in Wisconsin is just a click away for anyone with a computer, thanks to the state’s CCAP website. The online database of court records allows anyone to search for a person by name, and view any criminal or civil charges that have been brought against them.
Legal Action of Wisconsin attorney Bob Anderson says that’s a major concern, because the system also lists cases where a conviction was never reached. So, he says many people can see a charge on someone’s record and assume the worst. Anderson says CCAP also only lists the basic details of a case, making it hard for someone to figure out exactly what may have happened.
Anderson supports a legislative proposal to restrict access to CCAP and to limit who can see cases that did not result in a conviction. He says the current system results in discrimination, when employers or landlords use it to do background checks on applicants. He says even just having a charge filed is bad enough to make life difficult for an innocent person.
The online database receives over one million hits a day. It’s supporters say CCAP gives the public access to the court system, so they know what judges and prosecutors are doing.
For the majority of users though, Anderson says that’s not the case. He says most of those hits are likely people checking out their neighbors or the boy dating their daughter. Or, Anderson says, employers and landlords are looking up applicants.