The Massachusetts Department of Criminal Justice Information Services (DCJIS) has launched a new Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) request service online called ‘iCORI’ that will allow individuals and organizations to request and obtain Massachusetts criminal offender record information over the Internet. For more information about iCORI, one of the main provisions of the new CORI Reform law that took effect on May 4, 2012, visit the DCJIS web page at: http://www.mass.gov/eopss/agencies/dcjis/.
The ‘Implementing CORI Reform’ document available at http://www.esrcheck.com/file/Implementing-CORI-Reform.pdf states that Massachusetts Governor Patrick signed into law Chapter 256 of the Acts of 2010 – known as “CORI Reform” – in August of 2010. The CORI Reform law changed who has authorized access to CORI and how CORI will be accessed, and most of the new provisions went into effect on May 4, 2012. The CORI Reform law also prohibited employers from asking about criminal offender record information – which includes criminal charges, arrests, and incarceration – on “initial” written job applications starting on November 4, 2010.
After May 4, 2012, employers, volunteer organizations, landlords, and individuals can request, pay for, and receive CORI online using the iCORI online service. Employers will have “Standard Access” to CORI data 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 who must comply with statutory, regulatory, or accreditation requirements regarding employees’ criminal records will have “Required Access” to CORI for additional adult CORI information dating back to an individuals’ 17th birthday. Use of the new iCORI service will require all users and organizations to register, although paper applications for CORI will still be accepted by DCJIS.
Existing CORI Reforms that Took Effect November 4, 2010:
No Inquiry about Criminal History on Job Application (“Ban the Box”)
- Bans questions about criminal history from initial written job application, unless conviction information is required for a particular job by federal or state law. (§101)
Summary of CORI Reforms Affecting Employers Effective May 4, 2012:
Access to CORI by Non-Statutorily Authorized Requestors
- Employers, landlords, and professional licensing authorities will have access to CORI (subject to content and time limits mentioned above) on the internet. (§21)
Conducting CORI Screening
- CORI checks are permitted only after a CORI Acknowledgement Form has been completed; and
- The CORI subject has signed an authorization from.
Verify a Subject’s Identity
- If a criminal record is received from the DCJIS, the information is to be closely compared with the information on the CORI Acknowledgement Form and any other identifying information provided by the applicant to ensure the record belongs to the applicant.
- If the information in the CORI record provided does not exactly match the identification information provided by the applicant, a determination is to be made by an individual authorized to make such determinations based on a comparison of the CORI record and documents provided by the applicant.
Provide Criminal Record before Asking Questions Related to them and in the Event of likely Adverse Decision
- An employer (or other decision-maker), must provide a copy of any criminal record information in the employer’s possession before questioning an applicant about his/her record. (§19)
- When an adverse decision is made based on a criminal record, the employer (or other decision-maker) must give the applicant a copy of the record the decision is based on. (§19)
Adverse Decisions Based on CORI
- Where adverse action is contemplated based on the results of a criminal history background check (regardless of source), the applicant will be notified immediately.
- The source(s) of the criminal history will also be revealed.
- Subject must have an opportunity to dispute the accuracy of the CORI record.
- Subjects shall be provided a copy of DCJIS’ Information Concerning the Process for Correcting a Criminal Record. See: http://www.mass.gov/eopss/docs/chsb/cori-process-correcting-criminal-record.pdf.
Procedure to Correct Inaccurate Record
- CORI subjects have a right to inspect and obtain a copy of their own records. (§35)
- The department of criminal justice information services will publish guidelines on how to correct inaccurate information, and may work with other agencies to help individuals fix inaccurate records. (§35)
Limitations on Conviction Dissemination
- Prohibits dissemination of convictions after a specified waiting period that begins after release from incarceration or custody. (§21) (10 years for felonies; 5 years for misdemeanors; Violations of domestic abuse orders will be treated as felonies.)
- Prior records will remain available for as long as last conviction is still available to be disseminated. (§21)
- Permanent access to convictions for murder, manslaughter, sex offenses. (§21)
Limitations on Non-Conviction Dissemination
- Non-conviction (not guilty, dismissed cases) will not be disseminated to most requestors. (§21)
- Pending cases will be disseminated. (§21)
- CWOFs will be treated as pending cases until they are dismissed, after which they will be treated as non-convictions. (§21)
- Only entities with specific statutory access can receive non-convictions.
Employer Negligent Hiring/Liability Protection
- Employers that make decisions within 90 days of obtaining CORI from the state will not be held liable for negligent/discriminatory hiring practices by reason of reliance on the CORI. (§21)
- No protection for employers using info from private companies.
Department of Criminal Justice Information Services (DCJIS) Model CORI Policy
- A ‘DCJIS Model CORI Policy’ available at http://www.mass.gov/eopss/docs/chsb/dcjis-model-cori-policy-may-2012.pdf shows the practices and procedures to be followed when Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) and other criminal history checks may be part of a general background check for employment, volunteer work, licensing purposes.
Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) Acknowledgment Form
- The ‘CORI Acknowledgment Form’ is required of organizations using a Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA) for CORI criminal background checks that is available at: http://www.mass.gov/eopss/docs/chsb/fillable-cori-acknowledgment-form-organizations-using-a-cra.pdf.
Information Concerning the Process In Correcting a Criminal Record
- Must be provided to subjects of background checks where adverse decisions are made on CORI. http://www.mass.gov/eopss/docs/chsb/cori-process-correcting-criminal-record.pdf.
New Massachusetts Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) Regulations
- The new CORI regulations are available at: http://www.mass.gov/eopss/crime-prev-personal-sfty/bkgd-check/cori/cori-regulations.html.
For more information about background checks as part of a Safe Hiring Program, visit Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – ‘The Background Check Authority’ and nationwide background screening firm accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) – at http://www.esrcheck.com/, call 415.898.0044, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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