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The FBI has files on 1 in 3 Americans

And it's adding 10,000 more names to the list each day.

A new report from The Wall Street Journal found that the FBI's master criminal database includes more than 77.7 million Americans, with 10,000 to 12,000 new names added every day. That means the FBI is keeping tabs on roughly one out of every three American adults.

The Journal reports that over the past 20 years, government authorities have made more than 250,000 arrests, according to FBI estimates. Gary Fields and John R. Emswhiller at the Journal apply this "zero-tolerance attitude toward small crimes" to the increased police presence in U.S. schools. Fields and Emswhiller describe a student in North Carolina who was taken into custody for having a small pocketknife:

In Wake County, N.C., Mr. [Stephen] Perry was trying to avoid a water-balloon fight at school when he was taken into custody, according to a complaint filed with the Justice and Education Departments by Legal Aid of North Carolina charging that minority students are disproportionately disciplined. The Education Department is investigating discipline in the school system, a spokesman said.

The teen, his mother and the complaint all agree that authorities didn't identify any criminal activity until Mr. Perry volunteered he had a small pocketknife he had used to carve a tree. "I didn’t even know I had a knife. I just threw on my pants that day," he said.

The knife led to a weapons charge and a suspension. The charge was dropped, according to his mother, Lynn Perry. The suspension and time spent at court hearings left him short of the classes he needed to graduate, Ms. Perry said. Now she worries whether he can get into college. "It's been a complete nightmare, and we can't afford to get this stuff expunged," she said. [The Wall Street Journal]

These arrests for minor crimes, the Journal notes, can "last a lifetime" and "ruin chances of getting a job."