July 11th, 2014 | Sterling
Senator Schumer’s Not ‘Kidding’ Around About Background Checks
Recently, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer proposed new legislation, Senate Bill 1362, the “Child Protection Improvements and Electronic Life and Safety Security Systems Act’ (“CPIA”). CPIA would allow children’s groups to access the FBI’s Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (“IAFIS”) for the purpose of criminal background checks on employees and volunteers.
Senator Schumer announced the bill after 71 individuals were charged in a child porn ring, including many in positions of authority or those who work directly with youth. Some of the accused include a police chief, a rabbi, a paramedic, a police officer, a Boy Scout leader and a Little League coach.
CPIA: A Proactive Solution to Protecting Children
The purpose of the new legislation is to enable children’s groups to conduct more thorough background checks to determine if applicants have any previous charges relating to violent or sexual crimes.
Senator Schumer’s leadership in this area and his efforts to protect children through more comprehensive background checks are truly commendable. However, the approach outlined in the background checks legislation for children’s groups is less than ideal. While the FBI’s IAFIS database is an excellent supplement to a conventional background check, exclusive dependence on this database actually exposes youth to unnecessary risk.
The Concern with IAFIS
The bottom line is that the IAFIS database contains outdated and incomplete information. Only 50% – 55% of available criminal records can be found in the database and one out of every two FBI records are either inaccurate or is missing essential information. And because the FBI relies on the jurisdictions themselves to report and update their records, there are also significant reporting delays from thousands of jurisdictions and a considerable backlog of records waiting to be entered into IAFIS. The limited and less-than-timely nature of the database compromises the accuracy, transparency, speed, and affordability of background checks produced – and puts children at risk.
Rather than relying on one single – and imperfect – data source, the better practice is to use a variety of data sources such as a social security number trace, county and state public record searches, an enhanced nationwide database search, and arrest records. These services offer the best opportunity for the requestor to receive complete, up to date, and FCRA compliant information.
Time and Money
Another problem that the CPIA bill is trying to solve is controlling the expense of background checks to organizations serving children. Currently, the cost of an FBI background check for a non-profit organization ranges from $40 – $90 and it takes about 28 calendar days to complete a search. A name-based background check when completed by a professional background screening company often costs $20 – $40 and is typically delivered in under 24 hours.
Professional Screening is a Better Alternative
Professional background screening uses details such as name, date of birth, address history, and social security number to check primary source records through county courthouses. This method is much more comprehensive and accurate than relying on the IAFIS database. A professional background check company, such as SterlingBackcheck can provide these services to help establish a faster and more thorough background screening program.
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