Yes, criminal records are public records. The reason I bring this up is because over the weekend I was reading a blog called Ask Bob Rankin. In it he received a question about background checks.
In his answer he stated that criminal records and financial information are non-public. Criminal records are generally about as public as you can get. Anyone in the United states can walk into just about any courthouse and look up criminal records by name, case number, date or just about any other identifier. As a matter of fact you can go to just about any courthouse website and get free public records. Now, let me qualify my statement by saying that if you are looking into someones criminal past for employment purposes then you may need a signed release from that individual otherwise you may be in violation of the FCRA. But, if you want to go see if your neighbor or milkman have a criminal record then by all means go down to the courthouse and have a ball!