Once Prison Guards are in, Their Corruption Goes Unchecked

By Michael Klazema on 3/30/2012

When we think of prisons, we often think of all the corrupt convicts living behind bars.  According to the LA Times though, corruption is also on the rise among prison guards.  An FBI sting resulted in the conviction of three Sheriff’s guards and the firing of one.  It also led to video-taped confessions and prisoners informing of other possible corruption.  While most cases of this sort have been found in California prisons, the problem isn’t limited to that state.  In fact, arrests of Federal Prison Guards increased nationwide by 90%.  Although not all of these ended in convictions, the prevalence does lead officials to believe that the number of guards they have discovered smuggling drugs and other contraband into prisons is just the tip of the iceberg.

In order to become a prison guard, applicants must go through rigorous background checks.  They are subjected to criminal background checks, credit checks, and character investigations.  So why aren’t these catching the corruption before they enter the force?  Most of these guards have clean records leading up to their application.  Once inside prison walls though, they are influenced by the manipulation and money of the inmates.  Some say that poor salaries and a bad economy puts financial strain on prison guards, and this leads them to be more likely to get involved in criminal activities. 

While the investigation of potential guards seems extensive at first, some background checks can be misleading in scope.  Unless an organization is using the right sources, they could miss past crimes altogether.  For instance, if they use a County Criminal search, they would find crimes committed in the selected counties where the person lived in the last seven years. If the person committed any crimes in other counties or states, they might miss those, unless the search was complemented with a national focused multi-jurisdictional search like the USOneSEARCH from 


Additionally, by only checking their employees when they first apply, prisons miss noticing any corruption that follows after the hire date.  By running regular background checks throughout the term of employment, they could find red flags for criminal behavior they could then keep an eye on.  Also, by offering guidance when problem signs start showing up, they could actually prevent corruption before it starts.

By teaming up with companies like, prisons would have access to one of the largest databases in terms of criminal conviction sources, helping them to quickly implement a monitoring program.  Using the Ongoing Criminal Monitoring product, can alert them to any new records they discover for an employee..  We have a dedicated data acquisition team constantly working to keep our databases current so that our information is as accurate as possible.  As one of the leading background check companies in the nation, may be a valuable partner for prisons to have on their side.

About - - a founding member of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) - serves thousands of customers nationwide, from small businesses to Fortune 100 companies by providing comprehensive screening services.  Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, with an Eastern Operations Center in Chapin, S.C., is home to one of the largest online criminal conviction databases in the industry. For more information about backgroundchecks’ offerings, please visit


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