The State of Tennessee's laws regarding public records are very open, and the allow a great deal of freedom of access to the citizens of Tennessee. This applies to criminal records, too, as most of the requests for criminal records will have a satisfactory answer. The only problem of this system, specially for criminal investigators from out of Tennessee, is that the access to these records is open only to citizens of Tennessee. Regarding how open are the records, they are pretty much complete reports, but there are a few exceptions. If the contents of the record may in any way endanger the safety of any member of the law enforcement agencies, or to any informant or witness, or even if they may endanger the safety of the subject of the report, the record, or part of it, may be sealed as confidential. If part of a requested report is marked as confidential, the requester can still ask for a redacted version of the report, one that excludes the sensitive information.
The institution in charge of managing and handling criminal reports and criminal history reports is the Information Systems Division of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. This bureau, originally a part of the Division of Public Safety, is a fully independent law enforcement agency. Since July, 2004, it's possible to request criminal background checks at the Information Systems Division. When requesting a criminal background check, it's necessary to provide the full name, date of birth, address, race, sex and social security number of the subject of the check. If the requester only has some of the required data, but they're missing the rest, the check can still be made, but accurate results can not be guaranteed. It is possible to request a criminal background check on a third party without presenting any form of authorization signed by the subject of the report. As long as the requester has the necessary information, and as long as they pay the $29 mandatory fee, the background check can be made. It's also possible to perform fingerprint based background checks. These are necessary for those individuals who are applying to a job that involves taking care of children, elderly or vulnerable people. The fingerprint based background check's cost goes from $25 to $60, depending on the reason for the background check. Visit the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's website for more information.
The Tennessee Department of Corrections website features a Felony Offender Information search engine, which enables the user to look up the Department's database. The returned results are not inmate records or anything similar, but a very limited slice of information containing only the name, date of birth, race, parole hearing details and sentence details of the subject. It doesn't include the nature of the offence committed or any pictures. Below the search result, the engine offers the option of ordering a criminal background check through the website of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
The Tennessee sex offender registry's website, under the supervision of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, offers a much more open records search tool. It is possible to search by name, known aliases or address, and the returned records are complete and comprehensive. They include picture, physical description, information on vehicles owned and even a location map which makes it easy to find exactly where the offender's address is. The website of the sex offender registry has more information on this regard.