SEARCH Holds March 11 Congressional Briefing on Criminal History Records
Congressional staff from both the House and Senate attended SEARCH briefings held March 11 on Capitol Hill to learn more about criminal history records and their use for noncriminal justice and civil purposes.
The briefing held in the House of Representatives was hosted by the House Judiciary Committee and in the Senate, U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) was the honorary co-host. Three SEARCH governor-appointees to the SEARCH Membership, SEARCH staff, and two FBI officials participated in the panel sessions.
At the briefings, congressional staff learned how the rap sheet is accessed, shared, and used for decisions regarding employment, volunteer work, and work with vulnerable populations, such as children, the elderly, and the disabled. They heard how the States and the FBI cooperatively exchange records for civil purposes, how the national system evolved, its governance via the National Crime Prevention and Privacy Compact Council, and the successes and challenges states have faced over the years.
“The briefing was an opportunity for staffers to better understand the background screening system that applies to tens of millions of job applicants and volunteers each year,” noted SEARCH Government Affairs Director Kelly Harbitter.
“Having our Members—who are the experts on criminal history record management, use, and exchange—share their real life operational experiences and expertise helped demystify the process. Having the current chair of the Compact Council, Ms. Dawn Peck (and past Chair Ms. Donna Uzzell), allowed us to emphasize the importance of the user-governed national body that Congress established many years ago to promulgate rules and regulations for sharing criminal records for civil purposes.”
Ms. Harbitter noted that the Congress is considering dozens of bills that address the use and management of the criminal history record for criminal and noncriminal justice purposes. These include bills that would require background screening for child care, preschool, and elementary school workers.
The briefing featured input from three SEARCH Members, all of whom have experience as state-level managers of criminal history record repositories–
- SEARCH Chair Francis X. Aumand III, Deputy Commissioner, Vermont Department of Public Safety
- Ms. Dawn Peck, Manager, Bureau of Criminal Identification, Idaho State Police
- Ms. Donna Uzzell, Director, Criminal Justice Information Services, Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
They were joined by FBI officials, Mr. Gary S. Barron, FBI Compact Officer, and Mr. Thomas Aldridge, Office of General Counsel Access Integrity Unit. SEARCH Law and Policy Director Owen M. Greenspan, also participated in the panel, while Ms. Harbitter facilitated the discussion.
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