At their core, background checks are designed to keep us safe. They allow employers, to a debated degree, to try and weed out unreliable applicants, they let schools and other institutions know that the people working with their children are safe to be doing so, and they allow government bodies to ensure those handling sensitive documents won’t take advantage of the information within them, to name just a few legitimate benefits. Every once in a while, however, the system can backfire, and the results can be disastrous for the individual or individuals involved. [Read more…]
Minnesota Criminal Records
As of August 1st, 2005, the statute of the state of Minnesota requires the Department of Public Safety to have public criminal records available online for any citizen who wants to look them up. The records are available at the Computerized Criminal History System (CCH), a part of the website of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA).
However, the access to these records is not complete. By default, the records are limited to all adult misdemeanors, felonies and convictions less than fifteen years old. If any individual wants to look up any complete record, they must produce a BCA Informed Consent Form, signed by the subject of the report. This report would be delivered via mail at a cost of fifteen dollars. If anyone wants to request their own complete record, they can get it, delivered via mail, for eight dollars. The CCH has a separate search engine for the records of crimes related to the manufacture or distribution of methamphetamine, which is available at https://mor.state.mn.us/MorOffenderSearch.aspx.
The Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC) offers a different way of looking up criminal records. In their website, it's possible to look up their databases of people related to their organisation through their various search engines. This databases are accessible online. This website gives access to the following information:
- Level 3 Predatory Offender Search engine. Here, it's possible to look for level 3 predatory offenders -predatory offenders with high risk of re-offending- by name, city, county or even ZIP code. - Offender Locator. This options allows the user to look up all the offenders who have been committed to the DOC, and are still under their supervision, including those who are currently incarcerated and those who have been released under supervision.- Active DOC fugitives. This is quite a straight forward database, a collection of pictures of fugitives, with links to their records.
The DOC website also links to the CCH search engine, making it easier to perform background checks and to contrast the information contained in both databases.
If anyone is looking for information on the sex offender registry, the US Department of Justice's National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW) has a powerful search engine that allows the user to look up the sex offender registry database. The main problem with this search engine is that, in order to perform any kind of search, it requires the first name and last name of the alleged offender, which usually makes it really hard to perform the necessary research.
Both the CCH and the DOC databases and search engines provide with extremely useful and personal information. These criminal records can be an extremely useful tool, but they must be used with some degree of intelligence and sensibility. As the CCH's website clearly states, if the criminal record is used to perform a background check on an applicant for a job, it is mandatory to inform the candidate that the background check is being performed through the CCH.
Minnesota may not have a reputation for being a state that is easy on crime, but they are opting to join a relatively forgiving movement this year. Like many states over the past couple of years, Minnesota will be making it easier for those with certain types of minor convictions to have their criminal records sealed. [Read more…]
Governor Mark Dayton of Minnesota is of the opinion that once a criminal has paid his or her allotted debt to society, at least for minor crimes, they’re free to lead to their life free of “convict stigma.” At least that’s the message being portrayed with his signing of a recent bill in the state legislature that helps close up a long standing loophole that prevents ease of expungement for even the most minor of crimes in Minnesota. It’s an overhaul to the state’s “expungement law” and it makes it so that judges can now expunge or seal criminal records not only by the courts, but also those collected by and/or remaining within the state executive branch. Previously, this distinction meant that records might still exist indefinitely even after an expungement request had been granted by a judge. [Read more…]
It would not come as a surprise to learn that ex-criminal offenders often have a very difficult time finding employment. However, in Minnesota, a new law has been passed forbidding potential employers from requiring that applicants disclose their criminal history on their job applications. [Read more…]