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Georgia House Bill Would Restrict Public Access to Arrest Records

By Michael Klazema on 4/17/2012

In Georgia, the House of State Representatives approved a bill last week that will restrict the access to arrest records by the public, a cause heavily supported by the Georgia Justice Project.  Specifically, the legislation includes a so-called “expungement” provision to make it easier and faster to remove records from the public view for people that have been cleared of criminal charges.

The bill would remove such records from public view if the case was never referred for further prosecution by the arresting agency or if the case was referred but later dismissed. Other reasons why the record might get restricted access is a situation where a grand jury not once but twice refused to indict the case. And finally, the arrest records would be sealed too if the person was acquitted of all charges.

Previously, people who had been arrested, but not convicted, were too easily denied certain jobs, because sometimes their background checks showed arrests even though they had not committed any crimes.  In one case, a mother who had been accused of child abuse was cleared after they proved that the child had suffered from an allergic reaction.  In another case, a woman was charged with theft, which also turned out to not be true. The house is hoping this will open up jobs to people who deserve them, instead of wrongfully blocking good citizens from good jobs.

If organizations were using backgroundchecks.com though, they would never find arrest records using criminal record searches of our instant database. The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has consistently held that the use of arrest records as an absolute bar to employment discriminates against some protected groups.  Because we want to protect our employer customers, who generally do not have the resources to carry out such an investigation, backgroundchecks.com has decided not to store arrest records in our real-time database we use for instant searches.

However, if your intent is to verify or find out if somebody that got arrested was also charged and or convicted, you can run a search through backgroundchecks.com for that information and use it for employment decisions. We do include records in our database that may indicate that somebody appeared before a judge and was indicted, charged, tried, and sentenced.

But backgroundchecks.com also believes that removing more expunged criminal records from our industry’s databases will proactively assist people trying to rehabilitate from their criminal pasts. Because of that backgroundchecks.com has been working for over a year with various industry leading criminal record database companies on an expungement clearinghouse, which ensures that more expunged records are removed from their private criminal databases.

This new effort is aimed at assisting job seekers to remove records that may no longer be publicly available but which are still present in private databases. At the launch of the Expungement Clearinghouse, slated for mid-spring, over 800 criminal background check companies will benefit from the information exchange provided by the Expungement Clearinghouse through its members.

 

About backgroundchecks.com -

backgroundchecks.com - 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., backgroundchecks.com is home to one of the largest online criminal conviction databases in the industry. For more information about backgroundchecks’ offerings, please visit www.backgroundchecks.com.

Source: http://savannahnow.com/news/2012-03-25/sentencing-reform-bill-provision-would-restrict-arrest-records-access#.T3_xMPttqSo


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