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


Industry News

Tag Cloud
Recent Posts

Latest News

  • December 11 The Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General criticized a migrant youth detention center on the border for not running the proper background checks. Federal law requires the facility to screen all employees with FBI fingerprint checks.
  • December 06 In a bid to combat money laundering and illicit funding sources for terrorists flowing through the country's real estate sector, Singapore's government now mandates background checks for buyers purchasing properties prior to development.
  • December 04 What is a reference check? How does it vary from a work history check? We explore these questions and others.
  • December 04 Chicago Public Schools has dismissed hundreds of employees, coaches, vendors, and volunteers based on background check findings. The district recently vowed to re-check the majority of its 68,000 employees after a Chicago Tribune investigation revealed holes in its background check policies.
  • November 29 Striving to create a safer environment more conducive to productive training and leadership development, the Army has recently moved to adopt a uniform policy of background checks for certain roles. 
  • November 27 For hiring managers to verify the information provided on a resume, verification is essential.  Such is the purpose of employment history background checks.
  • November 27 California’s biggest public school district is waiving the cost of volunteer background checks. The move is meant to encourage more family - and community members to get involved with the school district.
  • November 22 Contractors play an important role in the workforce, delivering services to both individuals and organizations. Vetting contractors for suitability continues to be a challenge, as two recent articles prove.
  • November 21 When it comes to background and pre-employment checks, it can be instructive to look at the characteristics of the ten most massive U.S. employers.
  • November 21

    Verification checks are a powerful way to assess how truthful a job candidate has been on his or her application or resume. These checks can verify work history, education verification, professional licenses, and favorable personal qualities.