Volume 12 Number 8 August 2012
by Beth Zoller As of July 1, 2012, Indiana employers are now prohibited from conducting certain preemployment inquiries and are restricted in the types of information they can obtain from consumer reporting agencies and Indiana state courts with respect to background checks and criminal history, respectively. +2012 Bill Tracking IN H.B. 1033; +2012 Bill Text IN H.B. 1033. Under the new law, individuals who were charged with crimes, but not ultimately convicted due to dismissal, acquittal or a vacated conviction or who were convicted of a misdemeanor and most Class D felony convictions that are old enough to qualify and did not result in injury to a person, are permitted to petition a court to restrict access to that individual's criminal record. This story continues on Page 3
Lausanne, Switzerland Courthouse Photograph by Steven Brownstein
PRSRT STD U.S. POSTAGE PAID PERMIT NO. 164
Straighline Office, Guangzhou, Guandong, China
China will establish an unified criminals record system to better hold criminals' information and promote social adArticle ministration, an official from the Supreme People's continues on Page 9 Court (SPC) said.
speed up procedures and make them easier for the public. employees have already started offering the service. We intend to open more offices in shopping Abu Dhabi: You can now malls,” said Colonel Abdul shop and also get a criminal Rahman Al Hamadi, direcrecord certificate at Marina tor of the Criminal Record Mall shopping centre. Directorate at the Abu Dhabi Police at the inauguraFor the first time across tion of the new office in the UAE, the criminal recMarina Mall. ord document will be issued in both Arabic and English at the mall.
Criminal Records Will Be Issued In Mall
“We wanted to simplify,
Clerk’s office staff told that people make about Difazi she could review her Purple Hearts and other records, but that there military honors. would be a fee for copying A Revere, Massachusetts them. Because these phony woman could end up with a claims often crop up in pocouple of new charges on Investigators say Difazi litical campaigns, just the her criminal record after took the records and presence of the accessible police say she stole her walked out. lists should deter anybody criminal record from East from crafting a phony reBoston District Court. Boston police found her a sume in a run for office. short distance away from Suffolk county District the courthouse carrying the Attorney Daniel F. Conley court records. Yahoo Tweaks said 24-year-old Nicole Background Difazi walked into the Lies Will Come courthouse and requested With New Risks Check Language copies of the paperwork.
Swiping Her Slate Clean
An unpopular decision by the United States Supreme Court appears to have inspired the Pentagon to do something it should have done long ago, create a database to verify military honors. The need for such factchecking became evident when the court ruled that lying is a form of protected speech, that those people who falsely claim to have served and won medals have a right to tell their stories no matter how distasteful. The database being considered by the Pentagon is a high-tech way of pursuing a very old-fashioned idea, fighting lies with the truth. Once it is finished, it should be able to allow anyone to check the claims
Yahoo recently revealed its compensation package for its new CEO, with slight tweaks in language regarding the background check: Yahoo CEO offer, January 3, 2012: ”Please understand that this offer is contingent upon the successful completion of your background check.” Yahoo CEO offer, July 19, 2012: “You represent that all information provided to Yahoo! or its agents with regard to your background is true and correct.”
continues next page
Meet Steven Brownstein On LinkedIn
PUBLISHER Steven Brownstein
CONTRIBUTORS: Mike Sankey, Les Rosen, Dennis Brownstein, Derek Hinton
COVER PHOTOGRAPH: Lausanne, Switzerland Court COVER PHOTOGRAPHER: Steven Brownstein
PURPOSE: “Dedicated to pre-employment screenings everywhere” The Background Investigator is published by Steven Brownstein, LLC, PMB 1007, Box 10001, Saipan, MP 96950. Phone: 670-256-7000. Copyright 2012 by Steven Brownstein. Some material in this publication must not be reproduced by any method without the written permission of the copyright holder.
Mounties Admit CPIC Records Back A Mess
tory file during a manslaughter sentencing hearing.
With a dwindling staff of about 60 record analysts overseeing the overburCarole Gaudes, acting of- dened system, Gaudes is ficer of criminal records hoping a singular automatA whopping backlog in management services for ed system - much like law the RCMP’s national crime the RCMP at the Ottawaenforcement agencies use records database shows no based RCMP headquarters, to register criminal charges sign of getting better soon, said there are several prob- to the system - will be crethe force has admitted. lems the force is dealing ated for courtrooms soon. with. Many records have A spokesman for the naaccumulated from Frenchtional police agency told Indiana Law speaking jurisdictions as QMI Agency there are the RCMP struggles to find Restricts 430,000 criminal records bilingual staff to manage waiting to be filed into the Information them, for instance. Canadian Police InforContinued from Page 1 mation Centre database, As well, courts across the with more piling in every country are not on the same day. If the court does so, the computer systems, so the individual may legally repinconsistency is also causThe backlog accounts for resent in a preemployment ing headaches, Gaudes about 10% of the RCMP’s inquiry or application that said. Worse, many conviccomplete criminal record the individual has not been tions filed by the courts are file of 4.3 million records. arrested or convicted of a still done on paper, creating felony or misdemeanor. logistical headaches for It’s become and increasFurther, under the new statRCMP staff, who have to ingly thorny issue for judgute, covered employers will manually input about es, who use the database to be prohibited from asking a 365,000 new convictions hand down appropriate senjob applicant about sealed every year. tences. and restricted criminal records. “That is something that Recently, Justice Stephen we’ve been dealing with Hunter in Belleville, Ont., The new law also restricts for a while here,” Gaudes found an eight-year gap in information that employers said. one offender’s criminal hisand consumer reporting
agencies can obtain from Indiana state court clerks with respect to criminal history and background checks. The courts are now prohibited from disclosing information in cases in which an individual was: • Not prosecuted or if the action was dismissed; • Adjudged not to have committed the infraction; • Adjudged to have committed the infraction and the adjudication is subsequently vacated; or • Convicted of the infraction and satisfied any judgment attendant to the infraction conviction more than five years ago. As of July 1, 2013, the law will also restrict information that criminal history providers or those who assemble criminal history reports can provide in a background check to an employer. Employers who violate this new law by seeking access and information regarding sealed and restricted criminal records are subject to fines. The new law does not specifically
contain a private right of action for employees against employers who violate this law.
DOB? How long does it take to find this most important bit of information?
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Les Rosen with Steven Brownstein
Background Checks Cost Company $2.6 Million by Paul Muschick
An inaccurate criminal background check can cost you a job. A company accused of doing inaccurate background checks has learned that sloppy work can cost it, too: $2.6 million. I've written several times about the lack of accountability by some companies that perform criminal background checks for job candidates.
Inaccurate reports can cost good people good jobs. The Federal Trade Commission said it's taken its first action against a background screening company for violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
Solutions failed to take reasonable steps to ensure that the information in the reports was current and reflected updates, such as the expungement of criminal records," the FTC said in a news release. "Because of this, the FTC charged, emHireRight Solutions, for- ployers sometimes received merly known as USIS information that incorrectly Commercial Services, listed criminal convictions agreed to pay a $2.6 million on individuals' records." fine to settle accusations that it made mistakes when In some cases, the FTC preparing criminal backsaid, the mistakes led to ground checks on behalf of people being denied jobs or employers checking out job other employment-related candidates, and failed to benefits. adequately investigate complaints about inaccurate HireRight did not admit to reports. any wrongdoing in the settlement. "In many cases, when it provided consumer reports to employers, HireRight
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The Public Record Update A Service from BRB Publications, Inc.
Fee to Purchase Kentucky Criminal Record to Increase Soon The fee for a criminal record search in Kentucky will increase from $15.00 to $20.00 effective July 1, 2012. The fee increase is part of a plan to stay within the court system's budget, which received deep cuts with the passage of House Bill 269 (see www.lrc.ky.gov/record/12RS/HB269.htm). About Criminal Record Searches: Very few Circuit or District courts will perform a name search for the public. Most courts send criminal record requesters to a statewide service provided by the Administrative Office of the Courts. Records may be requested via fax, standard mail, walk-in, online, and even a drive-thru service. The CourtNet Criminal History database contains records from all 120 counties for at least the last five years for all misdemeanor and traffic cases and for felonies dating back to 1978. The criminal record online ordering system is called AOCFastCheck. For details on ordered and how to set-up an account, visit http://courts.ky.gov/aoc/AOCFastCheck.htm. Note as part of this plan that courthouses will be closed statewide on August 6, September 4, and October 15, 2012; employees will be furloughed. Also, since 2008 the Judicial Branch has cut 282 employees statewide and eliminated court programs in an effort to stay within their budget.
Vermont Increases Fee for Manual Driving Records Effective July 1, 2012, the fee for a copy of a Vermont three-year driver operating record obtained in person or by mail increased from $11.00 to $13.00. The fee for a three-year record accessed online will remain at $15.00 per record. The fee increase is part of recent legislation (Act 128). A number of other fee increases will affect VT services driver license issuance, exams, certain CDL fees, vehicle registration, and vehicle titles. A complete list is available at http://dmv.vermont.gov/sites/dmv/files/DMV-Legislation-2012-FeeBill.pdf.
We welcome your comments and observations about The Public Record Update Please address your comments to Michael Sankey at firstname.lastname@example.org Making copies of any part of the Public Record UpdateÂŠ for any purpose other than your own personal use is prohibited unless written authorization is obtained from BRB Publications. Phone - 480-829-7475 Public Record Retriever Network - www.prrn.us The CRA Help Desk - www.CRAHelpDesk.com BRB's Free Public Record Resource Center - www.brbpublications.com/pubrecsites.asp Motor Vehicle Record Decoder - www.mvrdecoder.com BRB's Public Record Blog - www.publicrecordsblog.net BRB's Bookstore - www.brbpublications.com/books BRB's Public Record Blog - www.publicrecordsblog.net
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Les Rosenâ€™s Corner A monthly column By Lester Rosen, Attorney at Law
includes any credit inforreasons for accessing the mation obtained from any report. third party, not only information contained in a credit If an employer intends to report. take an adverse employment action based on any The Act sets forth exemp- contents of the credit retions based on the type of port, the employer must employers at issue and the position or responsibilities of applicants or employees. Employers are exempt and may obtain and use credit information if they meet one or more of these conditions:
Vermont to Limit Employers From Using Credit Reports for Employment Decisions Continuing the trend of states stopping employers from routinely obtaining credit reports on applicants and employees to use in making employment decisions, Vermont Act No. 154 (S. 95) prohibits employers in the state, subject to various exceptions, from using or inquiring into credit reports or credit histories of job applicants and employees in the employment context and further prohibits discriminating against individuals based on their credit information. Vermont is the eighth state to restrict the use of credit reports by employers, joining California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Oregon, and Washington.
-The information is required by state or federal law or regulation. -The position of employment involves access to confidential financial information. -The employer is a financial institution or credit union as defined by state law. -The position of employment is that of a law enforcement officer, emergency medical personnel, or a firefighter as defined by state law. -The position of employment requires a financial fiduciary responsibility to the employer or a client of the employer, including the authority to issue payments, collect debts, transfer money, or enter into contracts. -The employer can demonstrate that the information is a valid and reliable predictor of employee performance in the specific position of employment. -The position of employment involves access to an employer's payroll information.
However, even exempted employers that seek to obtain or act upon the credit information of an applicant or employee are prohibited by the Act from using credThe text of the new law is it report or credit history as available at: http:// the sole factor in making www.leg.state.vt.us/ any employment decision. docs/2012/bills/Passed/S095.pdf. In addition, the Act requires employers to first Enacted into law by Gov- obtain the written consent ernor Peter Shumlin on of the employee or appliMay 17, 2012, Vermont cant to the disclosure of the Act No. 154 (S. 95) percredit information and must tains to "credit history" that also disclose in writing its
notify the applicant or employee in writing of its reasons for doing so and also offer the subject an opportunity to contest the accuracy of the credit report or credit history.
frauded by an employee, gested that many cases of most often through the mis- workplace fraud go unreappropriation of company ported. assets, inventory, or cash. Finally, the report found The report did not look at that 80 percent of small more sophisticated cases of businesses are not prepared white-collar crime. to deal with workplace fraud, while an additional The report also found that 60 percent do not perform 20 percent of companies assessments on a regular that had been victims of basis to determine their risk According to a recent surfraud experienced at least levels. vey the majority of U.S. four cases of employee employees would report fraud during 2010. wrongdoing in the workplace if they knew they However, the report sugwould be protected from retaliation and could obtain a monetary reward.
Many People Know About Workplace Misconduct And Are Willing to Report It -- For Money
The survey asked 1,000 Americans of their knowledge of wrongdoing in the workplace. The report found that 34 percent of participants said they knew of unethical behavior at their place of employment. Seventy-eight percent of participants said they would report such actions if they could do it anonymously and it would result in a monetary award. The survey also found that 79 percent of respondents would push a loved one to report if those conditions applied. The report found fluctuations based on income, race and age.
Workplace Fraud Cost $3.2B A report has found that workplace fraud cost small businesses in Canada $3.2 billion last year. In addition, the report noted that roughly 290,000 small- to mid-size Canadian businesses were victims of some type of workplace fraud in 2010. Among businesses with 500 employees or fewer, 26 percent reported being de-
Dennis Brownstein’s Extreme Court News
1,000 items were seized at Thanet's only magistrates "HMCTS takes the issue of court over the 17-month security within court experiod. tremely seriously and has a rigorous system in place, Four knives with blades 'No Balls' Now Security staff have made including mandatory bag longer than three inches knife and alcohol sei- searches, metal detectors Illegal To Say To more were impounded, as well as zures at Margate Magisand surveillance cameras, cameras, 112 tools, 24 A Man In Italy, trates' Court than at any to ensure the safety of all 199 recorders, one replica fireother in Kent. court users." Court Rules arm and 183 unspecified items. About 90 knives with The only court in the Well, that's a kick in the blades smaller than three county with more small groin to free speech. More than five items coninches were confiscated at knife seizures was Maidfiscated between June 2010 the court between June stone Crown and MagisAn Italian court has ruled and November last year 2010 and November 2011. trates Court, which had that telling a man he has were later returned to their 352. There were 380 alco"no balls" is a crime punowners. That is more than the total hol seizures at Margate's ishable with a fine. Criminal Record number of similar seizures law courts during the same Court security staff can at the rest of Kent's magis- period – almost 50 per cent For A Criminal The case was brought to the confiscate anything they trates' courts, according to a more than the Folkestone supreme court by a lawyer Record believe could be used as a Freedom of Information magistrates court and alnamed only as Vittorio against weapon or could cause a his cousin Alberto, a justice of Act request. most 700 per cent more hazard. A Toronto youth worker the peace, for the phrase uttered than Dover Magistrates' during a heated courtroom exwho falsified a criminal A spokesman for Her Court. change in the southern Italian background record in order city of Potenza. Majesty's Court and Tributo obtain a job where he nal Service (HMCTS) said: In total, just fewer than supervised children at a city “Apart from the vulgarity of the -run program was given a term used, the expression definitely also has an injurious qualsuspended sentence and ity,” the male judge, Maurizio two years probation. Fumo, said in his ruling as quot“You resorted to falsifying a criminal record check,” Justice Russell Otter said while passing sentence on Louis McRae, 34, for uttering a forged document — a police background check in September 2010.
Bringing Knives To Court - Bad Idea
ed by Italian news agency ANSA.
The court, Italy's highest, set the precedent while ruling on a case between two cousins.
The court sided with the My question is how did he plaintiff because the phrase pass the first police back- was uttered in the workground check? place, where it might affect the man's reputation, acIt turns out he was hired cording to the report. The without turning in his back- consequence will be a fine ground check. in an amount yet to be determined by a judge.
Voted #1 He looks like a nice guy. “No need to do a background check!”
China Database Continued from front page
The unidentified official said that the decision was made in a statement jointly made by the SPC, the Supreme People's Procuratorate, the Ministry of Public Security (MPS), the Ministry of State Security (MSS) and the Ministry of Justice.
the punishment and the en- shows a decrease in credit forcement of the punishchecks in the hiring proment. cess. According to the statement, information of those that commit crimes under the age of 18 and are sentenced to less than five years in prison, will be protected so not to destroy their future lives.
The information to be rec- Credit Checks orded in the system includes criminals' basic in- Decline formation, the names of the procuratorates and judicial The Society for Human organs, the number and Resource Management redate of verdicts, the crimes, leased a new survey that
sidered the most important, with only 6 percent of employers giving equal weight to all years in your history.
Fifty three percent of employers surveyed do not use credit background checks when hiring, compared to 60 percent who did use them in 2010. The reasons for credit checks are to reduce theft (45 percent of respondents) and to reduce liability for negligent hiring (22 percent). According to this study, 80 percent of employers who use credit checks have hired someone who had negative things appear on their credit check, with 64 percent of employees taking the candidate's explanation into consideration when making the hiring decision. Credit checks are most likely to be done on employees who have fiduciary responsibility or access to highly confidential employee information. The applicant's most recent credit history is con-
TORONTO COURT RECORDS CALL 1-866-909-6678
â€œWhat you need, When you need themâ€?
Truckers' Database Under Fire The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is suing the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration alleging that the federal regulator’s database of driver information lacks assurance of accuracy and a functioning process for dispute resolution. In a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, OOIDA says that the FMCSA refused to remove from the database information about citations issued to three association members that were eventually challenged in court and dismissed. The case of a fourth OOIDA member included in the suit is pending. As a result of the refusal to remove the citations from the database, the suit claims the agency fails to comply with the Fair Credit Repoting Act, with the Privacy Act and with mandates governing agency action contained in the previous highway bill known as SAFETEA-LU. Data the agency collects from roadside inspections and from crash reports are stored in the Motor Carrier Management Information
System (MCMIS), and is used to populate reports such as those obtained through the PreEmployment Screening Program.
When FMCSA receives a DataQ challenge, it routes the challenge containing the alleged violations back to the state where the inspection report originated. According to the lawsuit, “Inspection reports subthis is the agency’s way of mitted by state law enforce- delegating the responsibilment officers to the ity of accurate and comMCMIS system contain plete data to the states. data labeled and reported by MCMIS as ‘violations’ The lawsuit asks the court of safety statutes and/or to order FMCSA to purge regulations even when: (a) all data for which there has the driver has not been giv- not been a judicial determien a citation alleging viola- nation of guilt; purge all tion of state law; (b) there reports where a court has has been no judicial deter- dismissed or ruled the drivmination of guilt or noner not guilty; purge all reguilt where a citation has ports that are not “serious been issued; or (c) there has driver-related violation(s)”; been a judicial determina- enjoin the agency from distion in favor of the driver tributing information withresulting in the dismissal of out any reference to a discharges or a verdict or de- pute and a summary of the termination of not guilty,” dispute; and enjoin the the lawsuit reads. agency from distributing
false, inaccurate, incomOOIDA member Robert plete or misleading inspec- Lohmeier was issued a citation reports. tion in Arizona for allegedly failing to wear a seatbelt The suit also notes facts and for violations of the about the case of each driv- Hours of Service regulaer. tions. It says that member Brian E. Kelley was stopped on or about Dec. 7, 2010, in Texas and issued a citation alleging that he had violated a Texas criminal statute by “driving a commercial motor vehicle with a detectable amount of alcohol.” Kelley contested the citation in the Walker County, Texas, Justice Court and in response to a motion by the district attorney, the court dismissed all charges against Kelley. The suit says that on or about May 19, 2010,
On Oct. 14, 2010, Lohmeier appeared before the Winslow, Ariz., Justice City Court in Navajo County, Ariz., to contest the May 19, 2010, citations and the court dismissed all of the charges against him. The suit also says that on or about March 22, 1020, OOIDA member Klint L. Mowrer was issued a citation for violation of the Maryland Criminal Code for “fail[ing] …. Continues next page
sponse from FMCSA, Johnston wrote again to Ferro on Nov. 18, 2011, saying that “for these drivers, the damage that this Continued from previous page system has done is immediate and continuing. These ...to comply with local law; drivers, and others like rear drag link has more them, deserve immediate than 1/8-inch play by hand relief from being tagged by pressure.” FMCSA with legally unsubstantiated and unproven Mowrer contested the ci- violations of the safety tation in the District Court rules.” of Maryland for Garrett County where the court en- Ferro replied by letter dattered a verdict of “not ed Feb. 17 of this year reguilty” and dismissed the fusing to remove the recharge against Mowrer. ports of violations of law challenged by Kelley, In each case, the suit says Lohmeier and Mowrer, saythe driver filed a DataQ ing that she forwarded the challenge following the rul- DataQ challenges “to the ing and in each case the FMCSA division adminischallenge was denied. trators in the respective
Truckers' Database Under Fire
The case of the fourth OOIDA member, J. Mark Moody, is still contested. The suit says that Moody was the subject of an inspection in Iowa where he told the inspecting officer that he was not feeling well. Moody was issued two citations, one for his record -of-duty status not being current and a second for driving while ill or fatigued. He was given citations. Moody is currently contesting the allegations and a criminal proceeding is currently pending against him at the Jasper County Courthouse in Newton, Iowa. The suit also notes correspondence between OOIDA President Jim Johnston and FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro concerning the DataQ challenges. It says that on or about July 8, 2011, Johnston wrote to Ferro to specifically requested that the inspection reports challenged by Kelley, Lohmeier and Mowrer “be removed from all FMCSA databases.” After receiving no re-
states for review.”
Illinois Court Records End Up In Trash
In a letter dated May 29, 2012, Ferro wrote a second letter to Johnston reporting back the “findings” of the Court administrators in FMCSA division adminisMadison County say they'll trators regarding the DataQ do a better job of disposing challenges. of public records after court documents turned up in an The suit says that accordopen recycling bin. ing Ferro, the FMCSA division administrators from The (Alton) Telegraph Maryland, Arizona and reported that one of its reTexas reviewed the respecporters responding to a tip tive challenges and, in each found hundreds of the court case, the division adminisrecords plainly visible in trator refused to remove the the container outside the reported “violation” of law county's complex in Wood from the MCMIS database. River.
dresses, telephone numbers, detailed accounts of why an order of protection was needed and Social Security numbers. Madison County Interim Circuit Clerk Judy Nelson says a hauler who waited a couple of weeks to cart off the documents won't be used again. Nelson says the records instead will be disposed of immediately.
NO DELAYS Not a Police Data Base Search Canada Provincial Courts Criminal Research
The records showed names of victims, including minors, dates of birth, ad-
Call 1-866-909-6678 Or Fax 1-866-909-6679 Straightline International Shortest distance between you and the courts
Derek Hintonâ€™s Column
The Catch-22 Of CriminalBackground Check Guidance by Kristen Frasch Though employers have had a few months now to become familiar with the U.S. Equal Employment Occupation Commission's guidance on the use of criminal background checks, questions and confusion about how best to respond have only grown.
Shaw. "You either hire someone who could hurt your workforce, or you get in trouble for not complying with the EEOC mandate and EEOC enforcement." The guidance has also required many of Maatman's employer and chief-humanresource-officer clients "to spend a lot of extra money" to train their recruiters and hiring managers to rethink criminal background checks and learn how to conduct these individual assessments -- "without even knowing the end result of all this" due to the upcoming election. Election or no, "I think the jury's out on just how possible this [revamping of all hiring practices and training] really is," he says. "A lot of my clients are saying, 'I could comply if I had buckets of money to spend to administer this.' "
In some cases, employers are simply refusing to follow the guideline for fear it The guidance, issued will either put them out of April 25, is broad in its business -- considering this scope and specificity, esnew cost of training -- or sentially recommending create an unsafe working that employers now only environment, says William ask to see criminal records Tate, president of Chicagowhen such inquiries can be based HR Plus, a screening proven to be job-related. It -solutions provider. also recommends that HR professionals, recruiters "There are companies out and hiring managers not there saying, 'I'm not going automatically reject candito do this. I want to keep dates with criminal backmy employees safe,' " Tate grounds -- except for jobs says. And, while he underin which particular convicstands the sentiment, he tions logically have no doesn't think that's such a place -- but that they now good move. conduct "individualized assessments" of those can"Most companies may see didates to avoid liability this as an either-or, a Sounder Title VII. phie's Choice (as the movie title suggests) between folWhat this has created -lowing the rules and makespecially in this presidening your company a safe tial election year, when a place to work," he says, November Republican vic"but the real suggestion I tory could change the tone make [to clients] is, 'How and direction of many dican we do both?' " rectives coming out of Washington -- "is a very Tate says there is a way, tough Catch-22," says Gerwithout bringing down a ald L. Maatman Jr., partner company, to continue at Chicago-based employ"doing diligent background ment law firm Seyfarth checks to make sure you
know who you're bringing into the workplace, yet, at the same time, doing the necessary steps as advised by the EEOC after a conviction is found."
Really Old Records Now Online
home and peruse the records online. Under a program started by the Madison County Circuit Clerk's Office, about half of those records are available at MadisonCountyCircuitClerk.con tentdm.oclc.org. Within another 10 months or so, it all should be online, Madison County Circuit Clerk Judy Nelson said.
Until now, people who wanted to examine Madison County's historical court records had to come to Madison County to look http:// at them. Now they can stay madisoncountycircuit-
ly to employ sex offenders in Carroll County. The auto industry also has a fair amount, from mechanics, to parts and car sales clerks. Sex offenders must disclose their employment address, which is listed on the registry. Those whose employWhen Stephanie Rudisill ments had an address in a used a contractor for her shopping mall with many home, she was surprised to stores were listed as find out upon later research “Unable to Identify. the man she let into her home was a registered sex “It is a bit of hurdle for offender. some employers to get over that conviction of hiring a He did not offend Rudisill sex offender,” Brown said. in any way personally, and “However, the thing is, if her one-year-old son was they can do the job and are not harmed in any way, but not a danger to anyone at it was shocking that she did the business and the public not know about the contracin general, then why not?” tor’s past, and she was surprised employers were not There are 203 registered required to tell their clients. sex offenders in Carroll County, with the most sexSex offenders listed on the ual offenders residing in Maryland sex offender regWestminster zip codes. istry are able to perform Westminster has 58 sex ofany job that is not full-time fenders, while 35 live in the employment in a school or 21136 zip code, which daycare, according to Sgt. overlaps between Baltimore Brad Brown at the Carroll and Carroll counties in County Sheriff’s Office Reisterstown. Taneytown has 23, and Sykesville has The Carroll County Sher20 sex offenders who live iff’s Office has been hanin the area. dling casework for sex offenders since July 2011. Most sex offenders listed Brown said he sees a mixon the sex offender registry ture of white collar and are unemployed, according blue collar workers who are to data collected from the previous sex offenders. He Maryland Sex Offender said he has those on the sex Registry. The second most offender registry work in popular profession is conplaces ranging from fast tracting, whether that be food to computer IT. constructing, landscaping, welding or the like. Following contracting, the food services are most likeIf a person is convicted of
Maryland Sex Offender Surprises Mother Of One-Year Old
a crime that involves a sex offense, they are added to the registry. Prior to 2010, fourth-degree sex offenses and possession of child pornography did not necessarily mean a person would get onto the sex offender list, said Amy Ocampo, child abuse prosecutor with the Carroll County State’s At-
“This prompts me to call that school to make them aware of that status,” Brown said. “I go ahead and let them know where they can and cannot be.”
Brown gave the example of Carroll County Community College, which has a daycare center in their college. Because of this, it has “Sex offenders are not rea blanket policy that does quired to tell their employnot allow sex offenders on ers they are sex offenders.” the premise, whether they are going to college or attorney’s Office. The judge tempting to become emhad discretion prior to a ployed by the Carroll 2010 law. Now, any sex County Community Coloffense will get a person lege. A sex offender would onto the sex offender regishave to go elsewhere in try if convicted, Ocampo Carroll to receive or be emsaid. ployed by higher education, such as McDaniel College. “A lot of people think that the registry acts the same as According to the sex ofprobation; that it’s really fender registry, there are no meant to restrict what they sex offenders currently emcan and can’t do,” she said. ployed at McDaniel Col“It’s really more so with lege. public notification.”
make sure the employer knows they are employing a sex offender. Those on the registry must let Brown know within three days of their hire date. “Sometimes I find our registrants are somewhat lackadaisical and could be working there several weeks and then call to let me know,” Brown said. If a registrant disobeys the sex offender registry requirements, they are guilty of a misdemeanor on first offense, and guilty of a felony on a second offense, according to Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.
If an employer were to run a background check on a sex offender, they would see a criminal history and the conviction, but would not specifically list if they are on the sex offender list. “They have to completely Employers will hear from Sex offenders, regardless disclose what employers Brown a few days after the of the age of the victim, they have, and if that em- hire date to let the employmay not enter any school ployment takes them to an- er know anyway. for elementary or secondother location,” Ocampo ary education, or any daysaid. “I find the majority of care facility. However, people on the registry don’t there are no residency reShe gave the example of a want to violate any of the strictions for sex offenders; construction company registry requirements, and they may live near a school based in Carroll County but don’t want to violate the or day care facility if they has a lot of jobs in Montlaw period,” Brown said. choose, according to the gomery County. It’s possi- “Most of them are compliMaryland Department of ble they would have to in- ant just like in society. Public Safety. form Montgomery CounMost people in society ty’s police department of obey most laws.” Sex offenders are also their status as well, Ocamable to work in a place of po said. higher education, according to Brown. Sex offenders are not required to tell their employers they are sex offenders. The exception to the rule, Ocampo said, is when a worker is contracted to do work in a school or daycare. A sex offender is then required to tell their employer, so the employer is liable. “They can’t just use the excuse of ‘Oh my boss told me I have to do this job here,’” Ocampo said. Brown said he calls the employers after a change of employment in order to confirm their hire date, and
Medical ID Theft: Double Danger For Doctors
When Anne Peters, MD, a Los Angeles-based internist, started receiving phone calls in 2006 from patients who were not hers about medical procedures she didn’t perform or even offer at her practice, she figured out pretty quickly that she had become a victim of medical identity theft. When Dr. Peters sought advice on how to resolve the situation, she not only came up empty-handed, but she soon started feeling like a criminal herself. She was visited by federal agents, she received notices from the Internal Revenue Service regarding back taxes on $750,000 she never earned, and she was even detained once at the airport for more than an hour when she returned from a trip abroad. Meanwhile, Medicare stopped sending her payments for legitimate claims. The worst part, she said, was that she couldn’t find anyone to help her figure out what went wrong or how to resolve it. What went wrong was that a sophisticated international crime ring had stolen her
medical credentials, set up professional or financial shop under her name and harm to physicians. was illegally bilking Medicare out of hundreds of Problems for physicians thousands of dollars. could go way beyond the threat of spending more
that list. Physician practices can work with patients, payers, employees and others to help prevent and detect medical ID theft. The biggest key to detection is education, said Shantanu Agrawal, MD, who serves as medical director for the Center for Program Integrity at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Many people don’t even know what medical ID theft is, so educating patients on the problem and how to detect it is well worth a physician’s time, he said.
Dr. Peters’ story was highlighted in a Feb. 1 article in The Journal of the American Medical Association, by Dr. Agrawal and Peter Budetti, MD, JD, that was meant to educate physicians. Dr. Budetti is CMS deputy administrator and Six years and countless than a year and many thoudirector of the agency’s headaches later, Dr. Peters sands of dollars clearing Center for Program Integrifinally got her name their names when their proty. cleared. Because of her ex- fessional identities are perience, Dr. Peters is in compromised. (A February Dr. Agrawal said that demand as a speaker on survey by Ponemon Instiwhen physicians receive medical identity theft and tute, which studies computcalls such as the ones Dr. helps raise awareness er security and identity Peters received from paamong her colleagues and theft issues, estimates that tients she knew she never among federal agents, who identity theft victims spend treated, that should be an have developed programs more than $22,000 clearing immediate warning sign. to help physicians in simi- their names.) lar situations. In addition to educating Physicians also face reperpatients on the importance Medical identity theft is cussions when their paof reviewing Medicare very much on the radar of tients’ identities are stolen. summary notices and the Medicare and other agen- Patients report losing trust explanation of benefits doccies responsible for investi- in their physicians after a uments sent by private ingating identity theft. In re- medical ID theft has ocsurers, physicians also cent years, it has become curred. There is also the should review their own the fastest-growing type of potential for medical errors Medicare remittance noticidentity theft in the world, and bad outcomes caused es to look for services they according to reports. An by two patients using the never performed, or payestimated 2 million people same identity. Physicians ments they never received. become victims of identity also potentially could be Names that don’t look fatheft each year. And more subjected to violations of miliar can be signs that than 5,300 physicians have the Health Insurance Portasomeone is practicing in his listed themselves in a feder- bility and Accountability or her name, and Medicare al database that tracks med- Act if they did not adeshould be contacted immeical identity theft. For phy- quately protect the data diately. sicians, the threat is a dou- from being stolen. ble whammy. Physicians also can do Identifying cases of mediroutine checks of MediThere are two types of cal ID theft early can help care’s Provider Enrollment, medical ID theft: the kind lessen the damage. And it’s Chain and Ownership Systhat involves a patient’s easier than one might think tem. This will list the pracidentity being comproto detect it. Many times, the tices associated with a phymised; and the kind that clues are not well-hidden sician’s name. If a practice involves the physician’s — it’s just that neither phyhas been set up using the professional identifiers be- sician practices nor patients physician’s Medicare idening stolen. Both could bring are connecting the dots. tifier, it will show up on
Jeremy Miller, a director at Kroll Advisory Solutions, a security response and mitigation firm, said other warning signs include mailings or phone calls that make reference to corporation filings or businesses under a different name than the actual practice. Other clues are credit reports that show accounts a physician doesn’t recognize. “Don’t just assume it’s a mistake,” Miller said. “The earlier you capture those kinds of things, the easier it is to get it untangled.” Physicians also should be aware that many thefts start with employees in the practice, said Bill Fox, senior director of the health care division at LexisNexis Risk Solutions. Some employees have access to passwords or identifiers that could be used to establish a fraudulent practice in the physician’s name. And they have the ability to intercept evidence that the fraud is occurring. Even though a large percentage of medical ID thefts that involve a patient using someone else’s insurance credentials to receive care are “Robin Hood” crimes involving willing victims, the consequences still could be devastating to both patients and physicians. Patients run the risk of receiving improper medical treatment because of someone else’s information being in the medical record and used by physicians to make a treatment decision. And physicians who miss obvious signs that a patient is not who the medical record indicates could be held liable for any harm that was done because of the oversight, said Larry Ponemon, PhD, chair and founder of the Ponemon Institute. Article continues next page
Those referrals, especially ones from other doctors, can be used to establish the person’s identity, if needed. ■Look for inconsistencies in the record. The advancement of health information Continued from previous exchanges will make these page crimes harder to pull off, Just as EOB documents because physicians won’t are a good way to detect need prior relationships physician medical ID theft, with patients to know they are also a good way something about them. for patients to see whether Having access to patient someone is receiving serrecords from another facilivices using their insurance ty can help physicians idenbenefits. But many patients tify discrepancies such as toss these notices aside. dramatic changes in weight or height. A survey by Harris Interactive conducted on behalf The first thing physicians of Nationwide Insurance should do about potential found that only half of U.S. medical ID theft is to heed adults have reviewed their the warning signs. If physimedical records, and only cians or patients suspect 24% have ever checked for fraud, Dr. Agrawal said, fraud within their records. they should call their insurer. Medicare has a toll-free It’s well worth a physinumber where potential cian’s time to educate pa- cases can be reported, and tients on the importance of all calls are taken very serithe EOB or Medicare sum- ously, he said. Many times mary notices and how to these calls result in a new read them, Dr. Agrawal investigation or add inforsaid. mation to one in progress.
Medical ID Theft: Double Danger For Doctors,
Practice employees also are a good resource, as they are on the front lines, processing the paperwork of patients who may not be who they say they are. A checklist of things the front desk and physicians can do to thwart identity theft: ■Ask for two pieces of identification. Jorge Rey, information security and compliance director for Kaufman Rossin & Co., an accounting firm in South Florida, said this simple request can be an easy way to sniff out criminals. If the patient has an insurance card but no photo ID, or if a second piece of identification is handed over and it looks fake, or the description doesn’t match the person, consider these as warning signs. ■Ask for a referral source. Rey said simply asking new patients how they heard of the practice can prove beneficial. New patients are generally there because they were referred by another doctor or by a friend.
number. Use of medical identification isn’t as simple to stop, Ponemon said.
"It benefits attorneys who case styles, case filings, practice in multiple coun- disposition dates and case ties," Balderrama said. dispositions; and determine the courts' names, court lo“In the world of health With document images, cations and bondsmen. care credentials, if you lose users can see exactly what your wallet and your crewas in the agreement or Users may also view the dential is gone and you petition. names of all parties incontact your health volved with a case as well [insurer], they may send "They'll have access to it as the name of each attoryou a card with the same and won't have to rely on ney representing each parnumber on it,” Ponemon coming down to the court- ty. said. “They don’t really house if they aren't able to," have these anti-fraud proce- he said. Cortez said the records on dures in place.” iDocket are excluded from Amelia Balderrama said the open records act and a The key is for health care although the service is open fee can be charged. organizations to have their to the public, many do not own anti-fraud procedures use it because of the initial According to Texas Attorand to be vigilant about us- monthly fee. In addition to ney General Greg Abbot's ing them, he said. the "convenience fee" or website, "any information subscription fee, the data- collected, assembled or charges $1 per page, maintained by or for a govVictoria, Texas base the same fee the county ernmental body is subject Goes Online clerk charges, to print a to the Public Information page. Act." With a few clicks of the mouse, anyone interested in The county and iDocket That includes paper, elecVictoria County's criminal, split the revenue 20-80, and tronic, microfilm and other civil or probate records can the $1 fee goes directly to formats of the record. have complete online acthe county clerk's office. cess to the more than However, "governmental 145,000 files dating back County Judge Don Pozzi body" includes all state and 22 years. said he wants to form an local level public entities agreement so the public can except the judiciary. Private The Victoria County access records without the businesses may be considSimilar steps should be Clerk's Office joined a part- fee. The clerk's office is ered governmental bodies if taken if the patient is innership with iDocket, an still open to access records. they are supported in any sured through a private online database, in hopes way by public funds, but plan. The Federal Trade that some of their most fre- "Those are public recnot simply because a priCommission also investiquent customers - bondsords," Pozzi said. "I'm not vate person or business progates medical ID theft and men and attorneys - can suggesting that we're talk- vides goods or services unhas a hotline and website find records without ing about any prohibitive der a government contract. where complaints can be searching in the courthouse. cost ... I'm amenable to anfiled. A police report The website also includes ything that would reduce Cortez said he wants to should also be filed, Dr. access to 61 counties across the cost to our citizens. expand the county's service Agrawal said. Texas. This is not doing so." contract to include land records. While Dr. Peters never Robert Cortez, county The online company ofasked nor wanted to beclerk, said the county wants fers free searches for court The service will give more come the poster child for to "leverage technology" cases by litigant name to access to a wider range of medical identity theft, she and improve customer ser- determine a case number. documents and potentially has taken her role seriously. vice. The county court joins Other free services includ- could increase the revenue She uses every available the district clerk, who aling the ability to view court for the clerk's office, Cortez opportunity to educate oth- ready uses the service. case numbers, case types, said. er physicians about the risks. She urges more focus Representing iDocket, Aron prevention. mando Balderrama and his daughter, Amelia BalderMedical ID theft is much rama, gave a presentation more complex than other Monday to Victoria County types of financial or identi- Commissioners. ty theft, Ponemon said. Armando Balderrama said If you lose your credit the service is based on a card, for example, you can three-tier monthly subscripcall the bank and they will tion fee which ranges from cancel your current card $50 to $100, and is open to within seconds and send anyone with Internet acyou a new card with a new cess.
Victoria, Texas Goes Online With a few clicks of the mouse, anyone interested in Victoria County's criminal, civil or probate records can have complete online access to the more than 145,000 files dating back 22 years. The Victoria County Clerk's Office joined a partnership with iDocket, an online database, in hopes that some of their most frequent customers - bondsmen and attorneys - can find records without searching in the courthouse. The website also includes access to 61 counties across Texas. Robert Cortez, county clerk, said the county wants to "leverage technology" and improve customer service. The county court joins the district clerk, who already uses the service. Representing iDocket, Armando Balderrama said the service is based on a threetier monthly subscription fee which ranges from $50 to $100, and is open to anyone with Internet access. With document images, users can see exactly what was in the agreement or petition. "They'll have access to it and won't have to rely on coming down to the courthouse if they aren't able to," he said. Amelia Balderrama said although the service is open to the public, many do not use it because of the initial monthly fee. In addition to the "convenience fee" or subscription fee, the database charges $1 per page, the same fee the county clerk charges, to print a page. County Judge Don Pozzi said he wants to form an agreement so the public can access records without the fee. The clerk's office is
still open to access records. could increase the revenue for the clerk's office, Cortez "Those are public recsaid. ords," Pozzi said. "I'm not suggesting that we're talk- Online Records ing about any prohibitive cost ... I'm amenable to an- Company Settles ything that would reduce Fraud Charges the cost to our citizens. This is not doing so." LocatePlus Holdings Corporation, a company that The online company ofsold online public record fers free searches for court databases for investigative cases by litigant name to searches, on Monday setdetermine a case number. tled securities fraud allegaOther free services includtions brought by the Securiing the ability to view court ties and Exchange Comcase numbers, case types, mission. case styles, case filings, disposition dates and case The company was alleged dispositions; and determine to have engaged in securithe courts' names, court loties fraud from 2005 cations and bondsmen. through 2007 by misleading investors about its fundUsers may also view the ing and revenue in violation names of all parties inof the antifraud and reportvolved with a case as well ing provisions of the federas the name of each attoral securities laws. ney representing each party. LocatePlus, without admitting or denying the SEC Cortez said the records on allegations, consented to an iDocket are excluded from administrative order prethe open records act and a venting it from selling its fee can be charged. securities. LocatePlus consented to the entry of a final According to Texas Attorjudgment enjoining it from ney General Greg Abbot's further Securities Act violawebsite, "any information tions. Because the company collected, assembled or is bankrupt, the SEC is not maintained by or for a govseeking a financial penalty. ernmental body is subject to the Public Information The SEC filed a civil enAct." forcement action in federal court in Massachusetts on That includes paper, elecOct. 14, 2010, after it was tronic, microfilm and other alleged that LocatePlus vioformats of the record. lated the antifraud and the books and records proviHowever, "governmental sions of the federal securibody" includes all state and ties laws. local level public entities except the judiciary. Private The United States Attorbusinesses may be considney's Office for the District ered governmental bodies if of Massachusetts indicted they are supported in any former chief executive ofway by public funds, but ficer Jon Latorella and fornot simply because a primer chief financial officer vate person or business proJames Fields a month later, vides goods or services uncharging them with conder a government contract. spiracy to commit securities fraud for their roles in a Cortez said he wants to scheme to fraudulently inexpand the county's service flate revenue at LocatePlus, contract to include land recas well as a scheme to maords. nipulate the stock of another company. The service will give more access to a wider range of According to the SEC andocuments and potentially
nouncement, the SEC amended its previously filed civil injunctive action against LocatePlus, "arising out of the same conduct," to add Latorella and Fields as defendants. LocatePlus declared bankruptcy on June 16, 2011.
ords in person. But, in recent years, this has become a computer-driven industry, with companies buying often incomplete records in bulk from the courts or from other screening companies and then not updating them. An incomplete report might show, for inLatorella was sentenced to stance, that a job candidate 60 months' imprisonment in was charged with a crime the criminal case . but not that he was exonerated. And faulty data can New York Times circulate forever.
Blasts Background Checkers The federal government has historically paid little attention to the companies that collect and sell the data used by employers in hiring decisions — including data about an applicant’s criminal history. But because 9 in 10 employers now use criminal background checks for some applicants, and the data are not always reliable, the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which share jurisdiction, need to get a better handle on an industry that has grown so fast over the last 20 years that no one can say how many companies there are.
A study issued in April by the National Consumer Law Center, an advocacy group, points to many other problems. Background reports often list the same offense many times, making it appear as if the applicant has an extensive record. Worse still, companies sometimes fail to do the basic checking necessary to distinguish among different people who have the same name.
In one particularly startling case that became the subject of a 2011 federal lawsuit in Illinois, a background report on a young white job applicant in his 20s listed several “possible matches” in a nationwide database. According to court documents, three of those “matches” were for a 58-year-old AfricanAmerican who had been convicted of rape in another They must make sure that state in 1987 — when the the reporting companies applicant was not yet 4 obey the Fair Credit Reyears old. porting Act, which requires them to strive for accuracy. The federal government The law also requires the clearly needs to step in. It companies that furnish re- should require companies ports drawn from public to be federally registered, records for employment outline standards for accupurposes to notify the peo- racy, make sure that job ple named in the reports in applicants have a reasonaa timely manner — so that ble time to respond to erroany inaccuracies in the data neous reports and seek can be challenged — or monetary and other penalensure that the public rec- ties from companies that ord is complete and up to flout the law. date. A version of this editorial Sloppy reporting was not appeared in print on July a huge problem in the past 25, 2012, on page A24 of when there were fewer the New York edition with companies gathering data the headline: Faulty Crimiand the only way to get it nal Background Checks. was to examine court rec-
A New Twist On Denying Public Access Public access to Maryland court records could put probation officers at risk, the head of the union representing them said. Since 2004, Maryland court records have been available for free through the Maryland Judiciary Case Search website, a massive statewide database that allows residents to search for cases by name, location and a variety of other categories. While the website only provides a brief overview of the case, including the names of the parties involved, charges filed and past or upcoming dates, state parole and probation officers are concerned that many criminals may be using the site to find out if they have open warrants out for their arrest, taking advantage of the public’s access to avoid arrest — or worse. “It doesn’t help to let offenders know in advance that there is a warrant open for them, first of all they can take steps to hide from the law, or, even worse, they may decide to prepare themselves for a confrontation with [officers],” said Rai Douglas, a 26-year veteran probation officer with the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.
waiting until after a warrant that serves as "constructive has been served to post the notice" to all parties altinformation. hough this is the first case of its kind involving electronic rather than paper First Property public records.
know when he had done so.
With his case settled, James returned to Jacksonville and told his boss at Merrill Lynch what hapRecords, pened. His supervisor told The document on the 2006 not to worry. A week Then Criminal sale was in the electronic him later, he was instructed to Records record for only 73 minutes modify his broker’s license on July 6, 2006. That was to reflect that he’d pled nothe only time a member of contest to drug possession. Florida Court the general public could This is both a federal and a Decision May Someday Affect You have discovered it, but that state-level requirement, makes no difference, the generally meant to protect court ruled. investors. It ended up ruinA Florida appellate court ing James’s career. The on Thursday said electronic Roberts concluded the modification to his license property records are official opinion by writing the only triggered an internal warnonce they are filed even if remedy for the Mayfields ing at Merrill Lynch. The later erased by mistake. and BB&T may be to sue firm placed him on paid the clerk who made the leave for two weeks, and A three-judge panel of the mistake. then fired him. 1st District Court of Appeal upheld the foreclosure by Once James’s probation First City Bank of Florida officer found out he’d been on a Walton County lot that How One Pill let go, she required him to had been sold to two differ- Can Ruin A bring with him to their ent buyers by Bluewater meetings a list of every job Man’s Entire Real Estate Investments for which he’d applied LLC. Career since they last met. His probation officer then called The panel unanimously Florida has historically each and every company’s rejected an appeal by Mibeen the center of the illicit HR department to verify chael and Bonnie Mayfield trade in prescription drugs that James had actually apand Branch Banking and like Vicodin and Oxycontin plied. Trust Co. The Mayfields inside the United States. bought the lot in 2009 through a mortgage from BB&T. They were unaware the lot had been purchased three years earlier by another buyer, Wright and Associates of Northwest Florida, which obtained a mortgage from First City.
The couple didn't know about the first sale because the county court clerk's office removed the record to fix an error but failed to reDouglas, who also is the record the corrected verpresident of the Maryland sion. First City foreclosed parole and probation chap- when the first buyer deter of the American Federa- faulted. tion of State, County and Municipal Employees, District Judge Clayton wrote a letter to Gov. Mar- Roberts wrote that the pantin O’Malley (D), state el recognized "the harshpublic safety Secretary ness of the result" because Gary Maynard and Mary- the Mayfields and BB&T land Court of Appeals are "innocent parties." Chief Judge Robert Bell, asking them to consider Roberts though noted removing active or uncourts have consistently served probation warrants ruled that Florida law says from the website, instead once a document is filed
Yet it has responded to this trade with harsh enforcement that can transform even the most minor offenses into life-ruining mistakes. As Reason details, one man lost his entire career after he was caught with one Oxycontin pill by Florida police:
“I am sure once the HR department at my prospective job talked to her, that my resume was thrown away,” James wrote in an email.
It took James a month to find a new job, but it wasn’t with a financial firm. Instead, he was hired on as As a final punishment, the a short order cook by a judge instructed James to woman had opened a resimmediately report his ar- taurant after an underage rest to his employer, and to drinking charge prevented let his probation officer her from teaching.
James was arrested in 2006, before Florida drug laws and enforcement intensified in response to recent fears about an increase in prescription drug abuse. Today, “he’d probably be charged with possession of a controlled substance, which is a third degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a level 3 offense under the Criminal Punishment Code,” according to Greg Newburn, Director of Florida’s chapter of Families against Mandatory Minimums. So on top of losing his job, having difficulty finding housing, and being forced to attend unnecessary treatment sessions, he’d also have a decent chance of going to jail — all for the crime of possessing a single pill he never used. The victims of Florida’s most recent crackdown, spearheaded by Governor Rick Scott, extend well beyond James. Ordinary pill users, who require painkillers for legitimate medical reasons, are finding it increasingly difficult to get access to medication, and shutting down pain clinics believed to be responsible for spreading prescription drugs doesn’t appear to be eliminating illicit sales. One of Florida’s new laws, which shifts the burden of proof in certain drug cases onto the defendant, raises serious constitutional questions. Florida’s broader history with tough drug laws is also bleak — though the average prison sentence length for non-violent drug roughly tripled from 1990 to 2009 (the highest increase in the country), there appeared to be no significant reduction in terms of crime rate as a consequence.
Industry News Corporate Screening Services Partners with ERC Corporate Screening, a provider of preemployment background screening services, is pleased to announce that it has partnered with ERC, one of Ohio's leading organizations dedicated to Human Resources.
their products and processes are tops in the industry,” said Pat Perry, President of ERC. “Background screening is a popular outsourced solution for our members and we think they will be very happy with the service and quality at Corporate Screening.
Castle Branch Adding Jobs, Extending Reach To California
The company recently opened a satellite office in Petaluma, Calif. to grow its West Coast sales. It plans to add 15 sales staff to the California office within the next 18 months.”
A Half Million Customers
country.” The popularity of the site is frequently attributed to the high quality of the information it provides, as well as the user friendly nature of the site itself. Smith goes on to say “Even for someone who isn’t particularly
Single Source Services
who suffered sexual abuse in the foster home system and later committed suicide. The test is evidenced based and is recognized by the Centers for Disease Control as an important part of the pre-screening for employees and volunteers who seek to work with children.”
Online background check start-up Instant Checkmate To date over 100,000 indiStraightline announced a significant viduals have taken the The actually visits and moment in the company’s Diana Screen®. obtains records from history. around the world. Diana Screen® is a test Wilmington, North CaroSince going live in 2009, named after a young girl lina-based national employ- Instant Checkmate has atment screening company, tracted over 570,000 cusCastle Branch, plans to add tomers, including over Through this collabora50 new jobs over the next 200,000 current subscribtion, ERC members receive year, officials recently an- ers. a free Screening Program nounced. Assessment (SPA) and disAccording to Michael County Searches counted pricing on backIt is the 10th largest priSmith, Customer Relations ground screening services. vately owned employment Manager for Instant Checkscreening company in the mate, “Instant Checkmate Call 1-866-909-6678 “Corporate Screening is country. Castle Branch cur- has become arguably the Fax 1-866-909-6679 delighted to partner with rently employs about 250 most popular internet backERC and offer our backpeople. ground check service in the ground screening services to their member organiza“Castle Branch has been tions. We share many of the fortunate to find continued same values as ERC, and growth in this economy,” believe this to be a natural Brett Martin, chief execufit,” said Greg Dubecky, tive officer and founder of President of Corporate Castle Branch, said in a Screening. “As a trusted press release. partner for many top employers in Northeast Ohio Pre-employment screenand throughout the nation, ing for health science prowe look forward to serving grams at colleges and unithese members and assist- versities has been the coming them in implementing pany’s main focus. the strategic solutions that they are looking for.” “As these programs continue to grow in terms of ERC is one of Ohio's lead- enrollment and as the ing organizations dedicated healthcare industry continto HR, workplace programs ues to grow within the and practices, training, United States, we plan to health insurance and con- grow to continue to serve sulting. ERC membership this growing industry,” said provides employers access Brittany Shropshire, marto HR information, exper- keting manager for Castle tise and cost savings that Branch. supports the attraction, retention, and development of The 50 new positions great employees. It also will be in sales, operations, hosts the nationally recog- information technology and nized NorthCoast 99 probusiness development, she gram and sponsors the ERC said. Health insurance program. The company is headquar“We’re thrilled to be part- tered in a 32,000-squarenering with Corporate foot building adjacent to Screening as we believe Mayfaire Town Center.
ed for sex crime against adults since April 2011. The other shows records on child molesters whose crimes occurred since January 2010. “We’re fully aware that our current sex offender registry has a number of problems in terms of efficiency,” said a gender equality ministry official. A justice ministry official echoed this view, saying consistent criteria should be adopted. “The dual system is definitely problematic and we’re considering setting a unified registry and disclosure system as quickly as possible.” Experts criticized the government and called for immediate action for improvement.
South Korean Sex Offenders Poorly Monitored The government has come under criticism for poorly managing a sex offender registry following the murder of a 10-year-old girl by a repeat sex criminal who turned out to be her neighbor in Tongyeong, South Gyeonsang Province. There are ywo separate registry systems. They have different rules on the disclosure of the list of sex offenders. The case proved that the disclosure system of the two ministries has not worked in preventing crimes.
“No other countries have such complicated criteria in Constitutional Court offirunning the sex offender cial said. “And the governregistry,” said Kim Ji-sun, a ment should change its polresearch at the Korean Inicies on the disclosure of stitute of Criminology. information on those sex offenders.” She also suggested possible measures for improveKim, 45, kidnapped and ment. killed the girl who asked him for a ride to her ele“One Ministry can run the mentary school on July 16 registry and set other relatin Tongyeong. None of his ed policies to protect womneighbors, including the en and children,” she said. victim’s father, knew that "Meanwhile, the other MinKim had served a jail term istry can provide support for raping a 62-year-old with the introduction of woman. therapy for the victims and their families.” Citizens across the country have visited online sex offender registries operated by the two ministries since Background Kim was arrested on SunCheck day. They show personal Filipino information on sex crimiHealth Care nals including photos, ages, Workers and addresses.
Peaple who tried to find to The suspect, surnamed sex offenders in their Kim, was not on either of neighborhoods, however, the lists although he was face a similar problem as convicted of raping a wom- Kim’s neighbors, because a an in her 60s in 2005. number of criminals are excluded from the websites. “A repeat sex criminal can target children and women One discloses information regardless of their age,” a on those offenders convict-
The Philippines is one of the world’s largest exporters of health workers, making this one of the country’s most important exports.
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Another USA Missed Record TV News Report Imagine starting a brand new job only to be sent home the very first day for lying about your criminal record. That’s what happened to a Milwaukee woman, hired by a local department store. Only, she didn’t lie. The company that checked her background got it wrong. Modern technology makes it possible to instantly search billions of public records stored all over the world. That has spawned an entire industry dedicated to screening job applicants for employers. When they make a mistake, the consequences can be devastating.
2006 conviction in Milwau“I’m a mom, so I was kee County for battery — a thinking about trying to conviction she had not dismake extra money just to closed on her application. pay bills and have a decent life,” Ward said. “I immediately started to cry and said, ‘That’s not She looked online for a true. This isn’t me,’” Ward part time job to supplement said. her income and she found one at Boston Store at Ward has never been arMayfair Mall doing early rested, much less convicted morning stock. of a crime, but she had a hunch what was causing the “So I was excited. Went in confusion. You see, Donfor an interview, got the nie Ward has a twin brothjob,” Ward said. er, Don Ward, and, as tends to happen with twins, they Ward was barely five were born on the same day hours into her first shift — December 7, 1967. when the human resources manager called her into the Of course, there’s one office and blindsided her. fairly obvious difference between them. “She told me I had lied on the application –that I had “I’m female and he’s not been honest,” Ward male, that’s the biggest difsaid. ference,” Ward laughs.
For Donnie Ward, one job A criminal background wasn’t enough to support check had uncovered a the family.
Online court records available to anyone — for
free — show that the “Don Senior VP Rob Pickell said. Ward”convicted of battery in 2006…is indeed male. Ward wonders how a background check could Donnie tried telling that to mix her up with her broththe human resources man- er, since she gave Boston ager at Boston Store, but Store her social security she wasn’t having any of it. number. Pickell says that’s a common misconception “She said, `You need to about criminal background leave now. You need to checks, because most court leave Boston Store now,’” records don’t contain a soWard said. cial security number. Ward vividly remembers In fact, most employers struggling to find an exit as don’t even provide she sobbed all the way to HireRight with the race and her car. sex of an applicant, either. Pickell says that’s because “It was very traumatic. I they worry about discrimiwas embarrassed, humiliat- nation complaints. He aded,” Ward said. mits, however, that relying on name and date of birth You don’t have to go far alone increases the chance to find a man who underof an error. stands. Just across the parking lot from Boston Store is When an error takes place, the law office of Jeffery it’s the applicant who’s left Hynes. He’s been helping with the burden of proving workers all over the state he or she is not a criminal. fight employment discrimination for more than 20 “That`s the crime of it all years. here is that good employees are being excluded and they “When the system breaks have minimal recourse down it can have devastat- when this occurs,” Hynes ing consequences on a per- says. son’s career,” Hynes says. After Boston Store sent In just the past five years, her home, Ward paid to get Hynes has seen a steep rise her own criminal backin complaints about misground reports from Miltakes in criminal backwaukee County and the ground checks. state Department of Justice. Both show no record found. “It’s not only a growing She also filed a dispute problem, but it is a gross with HireRight. injustice being visited upon highly qualified employees “Obviously when there’s who often have spotless situations where there’s work records who step into potentially misinformation, my office and say, ‘Wait a we want to resolve it as minute, I have a clean rec- soon as possible,” Pickell ord, why didn’t I get the said. job?’ or ‘Wait a minute, I have a clean record, why HireRight eventually veridid they walk me out the fied Donnie’s claim and — door?’” Hynes said. 13 days after it all began — Boston Store sent her an Hynes says many employ- email that reads, in part, ers pay a third party to “Your record is clear. screen their applicants for Hope to see you soon.” them. Boston Store uses a California-based company “‘No apology from anycalled ‘HireRight.’ one,” Ward complains. “No offer to reimburse me for “Perfection is not possithe background checks I ble. You’re literally dealing had to pay for, not even an with thousands of different apology from anyone indata sources,” HireRight’s volved in this.”
er proportion of people who 'There are people who had committed crimes. claim incapacity benefit because they are alcoholics ESA was introduced in or use drugs. They should2008 and is running in par- n't be allowed to, but they allel with incapacity bene- do. fit, which is being phased 'They do not need to work out. and often they steal to maintain their drinking or Even addiction. Generally people though ESA who work do not commit includes a crime. fitness-for- 'But for some people incawork test to pacity benefit is a subsidy weed out to give them time to go out unconvinc- and thieve.' ing claims, 28 per cent Employment Minister of its Chris Grayling said: 'This 538,000 claimants had of- paints a truly alarming picfended and 8 per cent had ture of the challenge we Almost one in four people been imprisoned. face.' claiming sickness benefit The combined figures for have criminal records, an the two benefits mean 23 Price Drops For official analysis showed. per cent of all sickness Online Saline claimants have offended. Background checks on County Court those receiving state Researcher Patricia Morhandouts because they are Records gan said: 'A lot of people too ill to work revealed that who have opted for incanearly a quarter have been pacity benefit do seem to Prices are falling for some convicted or cautioned for have committed criminal online court records in Sacriminal offences in the offences. line County, Arkansas. past ten years.
Quarter Of Those Claiming Sickness Benefits Have A Criminal Record
The findings from a UK Government research project show a high proportion of claimants who claim they are unfit for work appear to be fit enough to commit crime.
Saline County Circuit Clerk Dennis Milligan has reduced the cost of getting public records online from $95 to $10.
with INA that allows a person to download a single real estate document for a one-time fee of $10.
"We had people who need The circuit clerk's office a copy of a deed, but didn't has two kinds of records - want to pay $95 for it. We court and land. Last year, began looking at options Milligan put all court rec- and Information Network ords on the Internet using of Arkansas agreed to the the Arkansas Supreme reduced fee for those who Court's CourtConnect sys- don't want multiple docutem. ments," Milligan said. "This is just temporary. We Real estate records are will be providing an even currently only available better deal for people by online through a site run by the end of this year." the information Network of Arkansas (INA). Later this year, the Saline County Circuit Clerk's OfUntil now, getting a docu- fice will be putting all real ment, such as a deed, estate documents online for online through the INA free. website required a $95 annual subscription fee. The "Once our real estate recmain clients of this service ords are online for free, all are title companies and real public documents in my estate attorneys. office will be available on the Internet at no charge to Milligan said this charge the public," Milligan said. is unfair to individuals who want a single document. He negotiated a new agreement
You can wait in line or we can—Straightline
Ministers described the findings of the first investigation into the connection between state handouts and crime as 'truly alarming'. The study found that 21 per cent of the 1,565,000 claiming incapacity benefit – the payment brought in during the Eighties for those too ill to work – had committed at least once offence over the last ten years, while 4 per cent were jailed. But in a blow to ministers' hopes of reducing the number of claimants who abuse welfare handouts, researchers found that employment and support allowance (ESA) – the supposedly more rigorous replacement for incapacity benefit – was being paid to an even high-
Philippines (Manila) NBI police checks
Poor Land in Jail As Companies Add Huge Fees For Probation Three years ago, Gina Ray, who is now 31 and unemployed, was fined $179 for speeding. She failed to show up at court (she says the ticket bore the wrong date), so her license was revoked. When she was next pulled over, she was, of course, driving without a license. By then her fees added up to more than $1,500. Unable to pay, she was handed over to a private probation company and jailed — charged an additional fee for each day behind bars. For that driving offense, Ms. Ray has been locked up three times for a total of 40 days and owes $3,170, much of it to the probation company. Her story, in hardscrabble, rural Alabama, where Krispy Kreme promises that “two can dine for $5.99,” is not about innocence.
tional issues at stake.”
liam M. Dawson, a Birmingham lawyer and DemHalf a century ago in a ocratic Party activist, has landmark case, the Sufiled a lawsuit for Mr. Garpreme Court ruled that rett and others against the those accused of crimes had local authorities and the to be provided a lawyer if probation company, Judithey could not afford one. cial Correction Services, But in misdemeanors, the which is based in Georgia. right to counsel is rarely brought up, even though “The Supreme Court has defendants can run the risk made clear that it is unconof jail. The probation com- stitutional to jail people just panies promise revenue to because they can’t pay a the towns, while saying fine,” Mr. Dawson said in they also help offenders, an interview. and the defendants often end up lost in a legal TwiIn Georgia, three dozen light Zone. for-profit probation companies operate in hundreds of Here in Childersburg, courts, and there have been where there is no public similar lawsuits. In one, transportation, Ms. Ray has Randy Miller, 39, an Iraq plenty of company in her war veteran who had lost plight. Richard Garrett has his job, was jailed after failspent a total of 24 months ing to make child support in jail and owes $10,000, payments of $860 a month. all for traffic and license In another, Hills McGee, violations that began a dec- with a monthly income of ade ago. A onetime em$243 in veterans benefits, ployee of United States was charged with public Steel, Mr. Garrett is suffer- drunkenness, assessed $270 ing from health difficulties by a court and put on proand is without work. Wil- bation through a private
company. The company added a $15 enrollment fee and $39 in monthly fees. That put his total for a year above $700, which Mr. McGee, 53, struggled to meet before being jailed for failing to pay it all.
tors, “Courts Are Not Revenue Centers,” said that in traffic violations, “court leaders face the greatest challenge in ensuring that fines, fees and surcharges are not simply an alternate form of taxation.”
“These companies are bill collectors, but they are given the authority to say to someone that if he doesn’t pay, he is going to jail,” said John B. Long, a lawyer in Augusta, Ga., who is taking the issue to a federal appeals court this fall. “There are things like garbage collection where private companies are O.K. No one’s liberty is affected. The closer you get to locking someone up, the closer you get to a constitutional issue.”
J. Scott Vowell, the presiding judge of Alabama’s 10th Judicial Circuit, said in an interview that his state’s Legislature, like many across the country, was pressuring courts to produce revenue, and that some legislators even believed courts should be financially self-sufficient.
The issue of using the courts to produce income has caught the attention of the country’s legal establishment. A recent study by the nonpartisan Conference of State Court Administra-
In a 2010 study, the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law examined the fee structure in the 15 states — including California, Florida and Texas — with the largest prison populations. It asserted: “Many states are imposing Continues on next page
You can wait in line or we can—Straightline
It is, rather, about the mushrooming of fines and fees levied by moneystarved towns across the country and the for-profit businesses that administer the system. The result is that growing numbers of poor people, like Ms. Ray, are ending up jailed and in debt for minor infractions. “With so many towns economically strapped, there is growing pressure on the courts to bring in money rather than mete out justice,” said Lisa W. Borden, a partner in Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, a large law firm in Birmingham, Ala., who has spent a great deal of time on the issue. “The companies they hire are aggressive. Those arrested are not told about the right to counsel or asked whether they are indigent or offered an alternative to fines and jail. There are real constitu-
Mumbai city-wide police checks
Poor Land in Jail,
In a joint telephone interview, two senior officials Continued from previous page of Judicial Correction Services, Robert H. McMinew and often onerous chael, its chief executive, ‘user fees’ on individuals and Kevin Egan, its chief with criminal convictions. marketing officer, rejected the lawsuit’s accusations. Yet far from being easy They said that the company money, these fees impose does try to help those in severe — and often hidden need, but that the authority — costs on communities, to determine who is inditaxpayers and indigent peo- gent rests with the court, ple convicted of crimes. not the company. They create new paths to prison for those unable to “We hear a lot of ‘I can’t pay their debts and make it pay the fee,’ ” Mr. Egan harder to find employment said. “It is not our job to and housing as well as to figure that out. Only the meet child support obliga- judge can make that detertions.” mination.” Mr. Egan said his company had doubled Most of those fees are for the number of completed felonies and do not involve sentences where it is emprivate probation compaployed to more than twonies, which have so far thirds, from about onebeen limited to chasing those guilty of misdemeanors. A decade or two ago, many states abandoned pursuing misdemeanor fees because it was timeconsuming and costly. Companies like Judicial Correction Services saw an opportunity. They charge public authorities nothing and make their money by adding fees onto the bills of the defendants. Stephen B. Bright, president of the Southern Center for Human Rights, who teaches at Yale Law School, said courts were increasingly using fees “for such things as the retirement funds for various court officials, law enforcement functions such as police training and crime laboratories, victim assistance programs and even the court’s computer system.” He added, “In one county in Pennsylvania, 26 different fees totaling $2,500 are assessed in addition to the fine.” Mr. Dawson’s Alabama lawsuit alleges that Judicial Correction Services does not discuss alternatives to fines or jail and that its training manual “is devoid of any discussion of indigency or waiver of fees.”
third, and that this serves the company, the towns and the defendant. “Our job is to keep people out of jail,” he said. “We have a financial interest in getting them to comply. If they don’t pay, we don’t get paid.” Mr. Bright, of the Southern Center for Human Rights, said that with the private companies seeking a profit, with courts in need of income and with the most vulnerable caught up in the system, “we end up balancing the budget on the backs of the poorest people in society.”
Foreigners Backgrounds Not Checked
implying deficiencies in the TSA screening processes. If TSA has been properly conducting security threat assessments on foreign nationals becoming pilots, a comparison of the FAA database with the TSA database should reveal a specific percentage of one-to-one matches.
But as some foreign national pilots were not in the TSA database, the agency clearly had not conducted background checks on some of them despite its In a GAO examination of responsibility to do so. an FAA database of registered pilots and a separate TSA could not explain TSA database of screened away a failure to match foreign nationals, TSA names as the fault of the could not account for what other agency. percentage of the FAA registered pilots it screened
Canada Police Criminal Record Check Trend Draws Privacy Warning
B.C. Privacy Commisioner Elizabeth Denham is warning both the provincial government and private sector employers are making too much use of criminal record checks. She issued an investigation report recommending the province limit its use of checks, which are used to vet prospective employees and re-screen some existing staff.
"I'm concerned about the societal trend towards increased employmentrelated records checks without clear evidence as to their benefit in safeguarding the workplace,"
is not just criminal record checks but broader police Record checks are iminformation checks that alportant tools in hiring staff so pull in data recorded in who will work with vulner- the PRIME-BC police dataable adults or children or base. wield great spending or data-access powers, she said. Most of the B.C. population is in PRIME â€“ often as But in some cases, she witnesses, 911 callers or said, government conducts other contacts in a police ongoing or multiple crimi- investigation â€“ and some nal record checks on the are recorded as having had same employee, adding that "adverse contact" with poshouldn't happen without a lice. justifiable reason. That designation can spell Denham also wants the rejection for a job applicant province to report publicly or prospective tenant who on its use of record checks. agrees to a request for a police information search, B.C. Civil Liberties Asso- Eby said. ciation executive director David Eby said the problem "It's completely at the dis-
cretion of the police and it's incredibly overused," Eby said of the "adverse contact" designation in the database. The box can be checked for someone who was insistent on their rights in dealing with police, he said, or even in cases where someone attempts suicide and their family or friends call police. "This database was never meant to be used to prevent people from getting apartments or job opportunities," Eby said. "But it's become a database for employers, landlords and schools. It's got this creeping functionality to it that needs to be reined in." Denham's report said adverse contact designations are not court-tested and the use of police information checks by employers is much more privacy invasive and difficult to justify in comparison to criminal record checks.
EEOC Issues Guidance The EEOC advises employers to reconsider their present applications and remove blanket, â€œcatch-allâ€? questions that ask whether the individual has been convicted of any crimes.
Contact: Steven Brownstein PMB 1007 Box 10001 Saipan, MP 96950 1-670-256-7000 email@example.com
If and when an employer chooses to make inquiries on this topic, the employer should be able to demonstrate that the criminal back -ground information is jobrelated and consistent with business necessity. The Guidance also makes clear that the use of arrest records in employment decisions is neither job related nor consistent with business necessity, and therefore, does not comply with Title VII.
Many Sex Offenders Nationally Manipulate Identities A frightening number of the nation's registered sex
offenders hide, change or attempt to alter their identities to avoid parole conditions aimed at keeping them from striking again, according to preliminary findings of a new study. Roughly 92,000 of the 569,325 registered sex of-
fenders — approximately 16 percent — are digital absconders who use techniques developed by identity thieves to alter their names, birthdays, Social Security numbers and other personal information, according to the study conducted by Utica College’s
Center for Identity Management and Information Protection. This allows them to evade authorities while seemingly meeting court-imposed requirements or other restrictions. The tweaked identities allow them to apply for jobs, tap social benefits, hide
their past from neighbors and possibly prey on more victims — all while appearing to be on the radar of those charged with tracking them. “We have to dig deeper to find out why this is happening,” said Don Rebovich, the criminal justice professor at Utica College who directed the study. “It’s not to be critical of any of the tracking agencies in the states because they are doing great jobs, but there will be some offenders who slip through the cracks if they change their identities — and it’s not that hard.” In general, Rebovich said identities are most often changed with an altered spelling of an offender’s name or by changing Social Security numbers. In some states, including Louisiana, Nevada and Tennessee, the number of registered offenders using altered identities exceeds 25 percent. In Louisiana, the figure was 64.5 percent, according to the preliminary study, compared to the national low of 7.1 percent in Wisconsin. The altered identities don't mean the offenders aren't checking in regularly with their parole officers. Actual absconder rates — the percentage of sex offenders who get released and disappear — are extremely low. Kristin Helm, a spokeswoman for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, said the state has 18,627 registered sex offenders and only about 1 percent are unaccounted for. But while offenders can't change their fingerprints for parole officers, they can easily pass themselves off as someone else to the general public.
sure that job applicants have a reasonable time to respond to erroneous reports and seek monetary and other penalties from companies that flout the law. ...The federal government http:// clearly needs to step in (on www.nytimes.com/2012/07 background screening com- /25/opinion/faulty-criminalpanies). It should require background-checks.html companies to be federally registered, outline standards for accuracy, make
New York Times Calls For Regulating/ Registering Us
Background Checks Decline The Society for Human Resource Management released a new survey that shows a decrease in criminal background checks in the hiring process.
on two areas: Reducing legal liability (52 percent of respondents run criminal checks for this reason) and ensuring workplace safety (49 percent).
said a convicted nonviolent felony would be cause for not hiring.
But, a surprising 58 percent of employers said they would and do take the canWhat in a criminal back- didate's side of the story ground would prevent into consideration when someone from being hired? evaluating whether or not Ninety six percent of reto hire someone with a felAccording to the survey spondents said a violent ony conviction. the reason for criminal felony would quash the job background checks centers offer, while only 74 percent