NAPBS Issues Comments on Proposed Changes to Massachusetts Criminal Offender Record Information

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Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) has submitted comments to the Massachusetts Department of Criminal Justice Information Services (DCJIS) in response to the revised version of the proposed changes to DCJIS regulations governing the Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) that reiterates previous comments NAPBS filed with the DCJIS in May of 2016.

In the letter dated October 14, 2016, NAPBS Executive Director Melissa Sorenson wrote: The current draft largely does not address many of the concerns raised by our and others’ comment letters, and as such, continues to present an overly burdensome approach to the intended purpose of protecting the privacy of individuals whose information is stored within the CORI system.

The NAPBS letter focused on the fact that “Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs) are not allowed to store CORI results unless the CRA is the decision-maker” responsible for making hiring or employment decisions: This requirement does not align with the role many CRAs play in the background screening process. CRAs are not, and do not wish to be, the decision makers with respect to employment decisions.

The NAPBS also noted several issues not appearing to be addressed in the current draft of CORI changes:

  • Clarification as to why vendors have been included in the employment applicant definition.
  • Clarification as to why adverse action requirements of the proposed revisions only apply to employers that do not use a third party such as a CRA to perform CORI searches.
  • Clarification of the new requirement to “identify the source of the criminal history information” and what the employer would be obligated to reveal such as the name of the CRA, the county clerk, or court name.

In addition, the NAPBS letter states that the current draft of proposed changes to DCJIS regulations governing the CORI “still includes overly broad definitions and vague requirements which create unnecessary confusion and may conflict with other state and federal statutes, in particular the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).” Sorenson concluded in the letter to the Massachusetts DCJIS:

If enacted as currently drafted, we believe that the proposed revisions would place CRAs and other entities that conduct background screening services in a position such that they will avoid the use of the CORI system altogether. This may have a detrimental effect on the accuracy and depth of the background checks provided to employers, resulting in a potential decrease in workplace safety.

The NAPBS is a nonprofit organization representing more than 850 member companies engaged in the background screening profession that has been dedicated to providing the public with safe places to live and work since 2003. NAPBS members help employers, staffing agencies, and nonprofit organizations make more informed decisions regarding potential employees. To learn more, visit www.napbs.com.

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