Many parents continue to pay costs for old criminal offenses

DollarsTime and time again, stories are told of young people who committed crimes and then were later trapped by the implications of those past decisions. Often, even those who have served no jail time are haunted for years and even decades to come. A not often told element of the story, however, is how this puzzle can become more complicated when those with a criminal history are or later become parents. [Read more…]

New York City passes “Fair Chance Act”

ApprovedThere has been a growing trend across the United States over the past few years of passing legislation, both at the city and state level, which bans the use of employer background checks – at least early on in the hiring process. In general, these acts are meant to recognize the sometimes extenuating circumstances that surround past convictions. Often, crimes are committed at a young age, yet follow those convicted for the rest of their lives, putting housing, employment, and other opportunities that most take for granted out of reach, or at least that much more difficult to obtain. [Read more…]

Businessman with criminal past sponsors second chance bill in Texas

ChecklistPublic opinion on the fates of those with criminal records has seen a massive evolution in the past decade.  Where a “live with the consequences” attitude once resided, one can now see much more sympathy and a sincere interest in the circumstances that led to an arrest, especially if it was committed as a youth or teen.  In state after state, laws have been proposed and then passed which seek to eliminate “the box” – the field asking applicants if they have been previously convicted of a crime – from job applications.  Other measures go even further and look to fast-track the cleaning of criminal records for those that have served their sentences. [Read more…]

Arizona DHS facing criticism over records request denials

Access DeniedThose with nothing to hide generally don’t mind showing you their closets, so-to-speak, which is causing some suspicions for Arizona news affiliate ABC15.  They made several requests to an Arizona hospital for public records and a response was delayed for over a year before being flat out denied.  The network was initially trying to request public records related to all incidents of sex crimes and patient abuse at Arizona State Hospital when they hit a wall of resistance.  Even after a state judge ordered that the hospital turn over the records to the station, nothing came.  The hospital made excuses for a number of months before simply telling ABC15 that it would not comply. [Read more…]

North Carolina to decide if police recorded footage is public record

Police LineOver the past year, there have been a few times where one of the most hot button issues was the outcry over police shootings of unarmed civilians – shootings which some deem to be racially charged.  Headlines have been dominated by police-related deaths in Ferguson, New York, and now Baltimore, and the resulting protests, riots, trials, and calls for justice that inevitably follow. [Read more…]

Report finds biometrics system in Ohio is not always accurate

Background Check Request3M Cognent, the company responsible for various biometric systems that use bio indicators like fingerprints to identify and track individuals may find itself out of a contract in Ohio before too long.  Ohio officials are looking to replace its current biometric criminal records system, created by 3M Cognent, after it’s come to light that the system has been plagued by a plethora of ongoing problems over recent years. [Read more…]

Reports finds Arizona criminal records are 70% accurate

ChecklistEach year, the FBI releases a report in which they audit each and every state for how accurately their criminal records are kept.  The review looks at a combination of overall accuracy as well as the timeliness with which records are kept up to date.  The idea is to make sure that states are monitored and are incentivized to keep their records databases current for the safety of their citizens and the utility of organizations that regularly access them. [Read more…]

School board candidate in Scranton, PA has unusual criminal past

PoliceSometimes criminal records can hint at a person’s character and the expectations one would have of them, and sometimes they only indicate the youthful behavior of a distant path.  Sometimes, in between, there’s a grey area that’s just a bit strange.  Such is the case of Scranton school board candidate Adam Swieciaszek, who has some unusual court documentation backing up his recently revealed criminal past. [Read more…]

Background check mistake causes problems for school volunteer

StressAt their core, background checks are designed to keep us safe.  They allow employers, to a debated degree, to try and weed out unreliable applicants, they let schools and other institutions know that the people working with their children are safe to be doing so, and they allow government bodies to ensure those handling sensitive documents won’t take advantage of the information within them, to name just a few legitimate benefits.  Every once in a while, however, the system can backfire, and the results can be disastrous for the individual or individuals involved. [Read more…]

Gary, IN to help residents with criminal records learn job skills

JobsThe city of Gary, Indiana is set to receive a grant of almost $120,000 in order to create a program aimed at unemployed residents that are having trouble getting jobs in the city.  Specifically, the bill is aimed at helping those who are having trouble getting hired due to a past criminal offense.  Rather than just advocating or helping to give expungement advice, as many similar measures have done elsewhere, this program is to focus specifically on giving residents skills that could help them to start their own businesses in the future. [Read more…]