SEARCH Membership Approves a Record Eight Resolutions

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The SEARCH Membership Group recently endorsed a record eight resolutions, which are statements of the Membership's position on current national criminal history record background check issues.

The Membership considered and passed four of the resolutions at its July 2007 Annual Meeting in Portland, Oregon, and the rest in a vote taken in late August.

Seven of the resolutions deal with positions of the Membership regarding the U.S. Attorney General's 2006 report on noncriminal justice criminal history background checks. The eighth resolution deals with the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

NICS Resolution
The Membership Group considered and approved a resolution expressing its desire to see certain elements included in any federal legislation to strengthen the NICS, including:
  • A definition of disqualifying records,
  • Inclusion of mental health records represented by adjudications or involuntary commitments,
  • Compliance incentives and penalties,
  • Federal grant funds to assist states in strengthening NICS participation, and
  • A revised schedule for noncompliance penalties imposed incrementally over a 10-year period.

The U.S. Senate is currently considering the NICS Improvement Act of 2007, which was referred to the Senate after being approved by a House of Representatives voice vote on June 13.

Attorney General's Report Resolutions
The seven other resolutions concerned issues related to The Attorney General's Report on Criminal History Background Checks, which was prepared in response to a congressional directive included in the 2004 intelligence reform legislation based on the findings of the 9/11 Commission.

The report included a series of recommendations that would drastically alter the noncriminal justice background check environment if adopted. The SEARCH Membership discussed the report extensively at its February 2007 meeting in Washington, D.C. The Members decided then to withhold action until SEARCH staff had a chance to review previous Membership Group resolutions and other items to ensure that the SEARCH response was consistent with past Membership Group positions.

SEARCH staff reviewed resolutions approved by the Membership Group from 1974 to present within the context of supporting, informing or opposing recommendations in the Attorney General's report. The effort sought to reveal areas where new Membership Group resolutions were necessary to establish or reinforce SEARCH positions on issues raised by the report.

Also reviewed at the request of the Membership Group was the August 5, 2005, letter to Deputy Assistant Attorney General Robert Hertling, in which the Membership Group responded to a request for comments on the proposed Attorney General's report as outlined in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, and the recommendations of the SEARCH-sponsored Report of the National Task Force on the Criminal Record Backgrounding of America(3.16mb).

Following the review, SEARCH staff produced a list of recommendations that were considered during a teleconference by an ad hoc committee of SEARCH Members. Based on the ad hoc committee's comments and suggestions, SEARCH staff drafted seven resolutions for Membership consideration. The following resolutions were subsequently approved by the Membership: