Washington Law Review


Society punishes criminal conduct by incarceration and moral condemnation. Prior to imposing sanctions for the commission of criminal acts, the accused must be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in accordance with adequate procedural safeguards. Yet each year thousands of unconvicted arrestees are subjected to the same stigma which society imposes on those who are convicted because the records of all arrestees, whether convicted or not, are retained and disseminated by law enforcement agencies. This comment will first present the arrest record debate. The traditional justifications for the present system will be compared with those underlying the new approach to the treatment of unconvicted arrestees. Second, two proposed tests will be examined to determine which can satisfy the needs of both sides of the debate. Finally, state statutes and a proposed federal act will be analyzed to determine whether current or proposed statutory law can provide a realistic solution to minimize or eliminate the stigma resulting from arrest record dissemination.

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