Nonviolent Offenders Get Second Chance to Prove Themselves

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A recent study of the records of 14,000 people who used a 2003 law to have their criminal records sealed offered several surprises to criminal justice experts. The law allows certain offenders to ask a court to order law enforcement agencies to keep criminal offenses under wraps.

Approximately 10% of the 14,000 offenders committed other crimes since 2003. The program shows enormous success. The nonviolent offenders were virtually allowed back into the workforce enabling the offenders to get a second chance.

"In the age of the Internet, where accusations cling on people the same way the scarlet letter did 300 years ago, these non disclosures are really, really significant," said Keith Hampton, Austin defense attorney and chair of the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association's legislative committee.

Not everyone is pleased, however. Told of the 10 percent rate of repeat offenders, Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley said, "Wow, that's a pretty high level of recidivism."



Embezzlement on the Rise in Nashville

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Small businesses in Nashville, TN are making it easy for employees to steal. Nashville police said they have investigated more embezzlement charges than ever before and blame the economic crisis for the rise in white collar crime. People are more willing than ever to risk everything to earn a few more dollars, and small businesses are the perfect target.

"When there's a lack of oversight, there's room for fraud," said Lieutenant Mickey Garner with the Metro police Fraud Unit. One employee began writing small checks with to herself from a small orthopedics group. She kept writing checks, and since she never got caught she ended up embezzling more than $230,000.

Small business often think that pre-employment checks are not worth the cost. Some businesses only hire one or two people a year and like to trust their gut. The simplest check could save you thousands of dollars. Most criminals are repeat offenders and will strike again given the opportunity.

Another "Somebody ought to write the checks, somebody work the accounts, that way you have two people. Maybe they can check out each other and make sure one's not doing what they shouldn't be," says Garner.

Most people who are caught embezzling are sentenced to probation and rarely forced to pay back the money they stole.


Ohio Governer Takes Criminal Pardons Seriously

Monday, March 23, 2009

Landing a job with criminal records can be impossible. Employers turn away job applicants with arrest records.

With 494 clemency requests on his desk, Ohio governor Ted Strickland is taking his duty seriously. He said he will release decisions on 100 or more of those requests soon. "The clemency power given to the governor, and at the national level given to the president, is a fairly broad power, and that's why I think it must be used very, very carefully. It's an attempt to seek justice in a way the the legal system is not empowered to do," said Strickland.

45% of all clemency applications request full pardons. A pardon effectively expunges criminal records. Strickland takes his job seriously and considers all aspect of the applicant's request before issuing a decision, "It's across the board. The crimes that they have been convicted of are wide-ranging, all the way from nonviolent drug offenses to some brutal crimes, including murder, " he said. "Everyone has their own set of circumstances and their own stories."

One example is Raymond Marbury Jr., who applied for a pardon three years ago. He was convicted of writing bad checks, forgery and receiving stolen property in 1992. He has since earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees and worked as a paralegal. He purchased a home and made restitution. He is requesting a pardon so that his record might be expunged in an attempt to make it easier to qualify for a job.

Strickland admits that a criminal record is a barrier for employment, "I think in some cases, it's likely to be a huge impediment, but that does not mean that simply because of that, at least in my judgement, that clemency is merited or justified."

Strickland is a former prison psychologist and looks at every case diligently before making his decisions. He understand the responsibility he faces when clearing a criminal record effect many, not just the former criminal.


Austin Legislation Threatens Criminal Records Research

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Legislation is being proposed in Austin to eliminate date of births from the Texas Public Information Act. Such legislation would effectively remove one of the most crucial pieces of information used by journalists and other agencies to conduct criminal background checks.

Senator Jane Olsen of Flower Mound, TX said, "The goal of this legislation is to protect sensitive information that could put our public employees in harm's way. Dates of birth should be protected from identity thieves, who would love to have this information to unlock our personal finances."

While Olsen's statement is true, that little piece of seemingly insignificant language unlocks a surprising amount of information about a person. Removing it will do little protect employees from identity theft.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, most identity theft results from a stolen credit card, government ID or bank statement – not through a public records request. And Social Security numbers, home addresses and information about public employees' family members already are exempt from disclosure in Texas.

Many news organizations use these public records to check up on government agencies. News organizations have exposed the lack of criminal records checks done by these agencies and alerted the public to criminals who are working among them. Checks and balances are necessary and this legislation seeks to eliminate them.


  ©2009 The QuickChecker by Liberty Screening Services, All Rights Reserved.

Back to TOP