Certain organizations, such as public schools and licensed childcare programs, must also query national criminal record and fingerprint-based registries to assess the suitability of individuals who will have direct and unmonitored access to their children and youth.
The nationwide fingerprint check is a search of the FBI’s master fingerprint file, which can be accessed through state law enforcement agencies. The check involves searching the official state repositories of criminal-history information. These state repositories are maintained in a database called the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS). IAFIS is a national fingerprint and criminal history system that responds to requests 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. IAFIS searches include arrest records, convictions, juvenile records (if provided by the state), dismissed charges or not-guilty verdicts, warrants, Sex Offender Registry information, physical characteristics (i.e., height, weight, hair, tattoos, and eye color), and aliases. All arrest data included in an Identification Record is obtained from fingerprint submissions, disposition reports, and other information submitted by agencies with criminal justice responsibilities.
National Sex-Offender Public Website (NSOPW)
Another national criminal identification resource is the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW). Federal law created the NSOPW, which links public, state, territorial, and tribal sex offender registries into one national site which is searchable by the public free of charge. Utilizing this website as a screening tool may help you identify sex offenders who attempt to avoid detection by moving from state to state and/or may live in one state, but apply for employment in a bordering state. In Massachusetts, you can also access the NSOPW website through the SORB website. It is important to search both the national and state websites.
Although sex offenders are required to provide a large amount of personal data, the Massachusetts SORI records and NSOPW registries provide limited information, including:
- Personal information, such as name and any aliases, age, physical description, and current photos
- Home address, work address, and employment status
- Convictions, the jurisdiction of convictions, dates of convictions, relevant state statute, and age of the victim(s) if known
NOTE: Not all sex offenders are on the NSOPW. State laws dictate which offenders are made public. For example, it is possible that an offender will come up on a fingerprint check, but will not be listed on the public website due to the requirements of the state. Links to all state, territorial, and tribal sex-offender websites can be found by visiting the “Registry Sites” web page, accessible from NSOPW.gov. If you have questions about the NSOPW, contact the SORB or the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART).
Many employers, privately owned businesses, studios, and clubs that provide services to children and youth do not fall under the Massachusetts or Federal laws and accreditation regulations that mandate CORI, SORI, and fingerprint inquiries. However, they can still follow certain procedural requirements to access the publicly available aspects of these databases as part of their screening process. As of May 4, 2012, any employer in the Commonwealth may register for an iCORI account to screen current and prospective employees, including full-time, part-time, contract, internship employees, and volunteers. Even if your organization is not required to register, it doesn’t take a lot of time, and may be in your best interest to gather this information as your due diligence. It can help you more fully assess the risks associated with individuals who could have access to the children you serve.
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