Massachusetts Criminal Offender Record Information CORI Reform Law Provisions Take Effect May 4

On May 4, 2012, many of the new provisions of the Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) Reform Law, Chapter 256 of the Acts of 2010 signed by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick in August of 2010 will take effect. Commonly known as ‘CORI Reform,’ the law changes who will have authorized access to CORI and how CORI will be accessed.  As a result of the CORI Reform, the Massachusetts Department of Criminal Justice Information Services (DCJIS) will replace the existing CORI system with a new secure, web-based system called ‘iCORI’ that should be available on May 7, 2012.

CORI includes records and data compiled about an individual’s history related to the nature or disposition of a criminal charge, an arrest, a pre-trial proceeding, other judicial proceedings, sentencing, incarceration, rehabilitation, or release.  A person’s CORI does not include a juvenile criminal history, except for youthful offender charges. The DCJIS is the Massachusetts agency that oversees the authorized release of CORI to the non-criminal justice community.

According to the document ‘Implementing CORI Reform’ document offered by the Massachusetts DCJIS, employers, volunteer organizations, and individuals will request, pay for, and receive CORI online using iCORI after May 4, 2012:

  • Employers will have “Standard Access” to CORI – “Standard Access” means access to information on any criminal charges pending as of the date of the request; felony or misdemeanor convictions; convictions that have not been sealed; and any murder, manslaughter, and sex offenses.
  • Certain employers will have “Required Access” to CORI – Employers who must comply with statutory, regulatory, or accreditation requirements regarding employees’ criminal records, e.g. hospitals and banks, will have access to additional adult CORI information dating back to an individuals’ 17th birthday.  Employers that currently receive CORI under federal or state law authorizing or requiring them to conduct CORI  checks will continue to have the same access, e.g. schools, camps, day care centers, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities.
  • The Public will have limited access to CORI through “Open CORI”.

Implementation of CORI Reform means that after May 4, 2012:

  • CORI access will require employers to register annually for an iCORI account.
  • Individuals will be able to use iCORI to request their own personal CORI’s from DCJIS.
  • The public will be able to use iCORI to request Open CORI from DCJIS.
  • Paper applications for CORI will still be accepted by DCJIS.
  • Use of the new iCORI service will require all users and organizations to register.

After May 4, 2012, CORI Reform also provides:

  • Job applicants with a new due process right – if an employer has obtained criminal history information about an applicant, regardless of the source, he or she must provide the criminal history to the applicant prior to asking him or her about it.
  • “Self-Audits” to help police the system – individuals will be able to see what non-law enforcement entities have requested their CORI, and individuals will be able to determine if their CORI’s were run prior to an interview or job rejection.
  • Safe Harbor protection for employers from negligent hiring for solely relying on CORI and not conducting additional criminal history checks and certain employment discrimination claims if they obtained CORI from DCJIS; if the employer made its hiring decision within 90 days of receiving the CORI; and if the employer maintained and followed DCJIS regulations pertaining to verification of the subject’s identity.
  • The establishment of the Criminal Records Review Board (CRRB).  The Board’s primary role will be to investigate and conduct hearings of complaints regarding violations of the CORI statutes and regulations.
  • Reduced waiting periods for the sealing of records.

As reported previously on the ESR News blog, starting on November 4, 2010 the Massachusetts CORI Reform law prohibited employers from asking about criminal offender record information – which included criminal charges, arrests, and incarceration – on “initial” written job applications. While the new law did not prevent employers from obtaining criminal histories of job applicants or employees contained in the CORI database, under the CORI reform law those records no longer contain:

  • Felony convictions closed for more than ten years, whether convictions occurred more than ten years ago or individuals were released more than ten years ago.
  • Misdemeanor convictions closed for more than five years.

In addition, the CORI Reform law also included the following provisions:

  • Employers that decide not to hire applicants or take adverse actions based on criminal histories in CORI reports must first give applicants copies of the reports.
  • Employers conducting five (5) or more criminal background checks per year must maintain a written criminal offender record information policy.
  • Employers are prohibited from maintaining CORI records of former employees or unsuccessful job applicants for more than seven years from the last date of employment or from the date of the decision not to hire the job applicant.

For details on what CORI information will be available for each category of access, please refer to the ‘Accessing CORI Information’ section of the document ‘Implementing CORI Reform’ available at: http://www.esrcheck.com/file/Implementing-CORI-Reform.pdf.

For more information about criminal background checks, visit Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – ‘The Background Check Authority’ and a nationwide background screening firm accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) – at http://www.ESRcheck.com or call 415.898.0044.

Related ESR News blog: Massachusetts CORI Reform Law Prohibits Employers from Asking About Criminal Convictions on Initial Job Applications Effective November 4, 2010

Sources:

http://www.mass.gov/eopss/agencies/dcjis/

http://www.esrcheck.com/file/Implementing-CORI-Reform.pdf http://www.mass.gov/cjis

http://www.malegislature.gov/Laws/SessionLaws/Acts/2010/Chapter256

About Employment Screening Resources (ESR):

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – ‘The Background Check AuthoritySM’– provides accurate and actionable information, empowering employers to make informed safe hiring decisions for the benefit for our clients, their employees, and the public. ESR literally wrote the book on background screening with “The Safe Hiring Manual” by Founder and CEO Lester Rosen. ESR is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), a distinction held by a small percentage of screening firms. By choosing an accredited screening firm like ESR, employers know they have selected an agency that meets the highest industry standards. For more information about Employment Screening Resources (ESR), visit http://www.esrcheck.com/ or call 415.898.0044 or 888.999.4474.

About ESR News:

The Employment Screening Resources (ESR) News blog – ESR News – provides employment screening information for employers, recruiters, and jobseekers on a variety of topics including credit reports, criminal records, data privacy, discrimination, E-Verify, jobs reports, legal updates, negligent hiring, workplace violence, and use of search engines and social network sites for background checks. For more information about ESR News or to send comments or questions, please email ESR News Editor Thomas Ahearn at tahearn@esrcheck.com.