Sending Office: Honorable Robert C. “Bobby” Scott
Sent By:
Nina.Patel@mail.house.gov

        Request for Cosponsor(s)

 

Dear Colleague:

Many Americans continue to face an unnecessary barrier to employment as a result of faulty or incomplete criminal records released by the FBI for use in employment and licensing decisions.  Local law enforcement agencies routinely report arrest records to
the FBI; however, these same groups often fail to report important information on the final outcome of an arrest or disposition of a criminal case.[1] 

There are federal mandates requiring criminal background reports to be complete and accurate.  However, a study conducted by the Urban Institute examining 75 major counties across the country found that roughly one-third of all arrests for felony charges
did not result in an actual criminal conviction.[2]  Furthermore, criminal background checks can include convictions that occurred seven years or more prior to an employee’s application date.[3] 
This can potentially violate federal statutes that limit record checks to seven years.  Arrests and convictions that have been expunged but have not been removed from the criminal background records can also unintentionally exclude qualified candidates.

The use of FBI background checks for employment is rapidly increasing.  Approximately 30 million FBI background checks were conducted for non-criminal justice purposes between 2010 and 2014.[4] 
According to data collected in 2016, 72 percent of U.S. employers used background checks, and of those employers, 82 percent conducted criminal background checks.[5]

Job seekers are potentially disadvantaged by the gaps in the FBI’s records when reports are not accurate.  Unfortunately, an estimated 1.8 million workers are subject to FBI background checks that include faulty or incomplete information.[6] 
Given the massive proliferation of FBI background checks for employment, these inaccuracies have a devastating impact on workers, especially workers of color who are disproportionately impacted by the criminal justice system.[7]   

That is why I am introducing the Fairness and Accuracy in Criminal Background Checks Act.  Specifically, this bill addresses the serious problems with the FBI database by requiring that records are accurate
before they are sent to the agencies and employers that rely on them to make hiring and licensing decisions. 

The enactment of this bill would immediately result in a significant decline in job-loss and financial hardship: the FBI must ensure that records are accurate and complete prior to being released for employment and licensing decisions.[8]

The FBI already possesses the capacity to update and correct criminal background checks.  The provisions in the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (“Brady Act”) offers a model approach.  In implementing the background check provisions under the Brady
Act, the FBI was able to clean up two-thirds of faulty records within three days of requests by contacting the appropriate federal, state, and local agencies to obtain missing information.[9]
A similar system should be implemented for employment and licensing-related criminal background checks.  The provisions of this bill will ensure that job seekers are treated more fairly, increase the likelihood that employers will have access to the best and
most qualified workers in a timely fashion, and increase public confidence in the integrity of the FBI criminal background check process. 

If you would like to cosponsor the Fairness and Accuracy in Criminal Background Checks Act or if you have any questions, please contact Nina Patel in my office at
Nina.Patel@mail.house.gov or at ext. 5-56642.  The deadline to co-sponsor is Monday, May 20th, 2019 at noon.                  

 

Very truly yours,

 

Robert C. “Bobby” Scott  
Member of Congress                

 


[1] Madeline Neighly and Maurice Emsellem,
The National Employment Law Project,
Report, Wanted: Accurate FBI Background Checks for Employment,
p.1 (2013). 

[2] Marina Duane, Nancy La Vigne, Matthew Lynch, and Emily Reimal, The Urban Institute, Justice Policy Center,

Research Report Criminal Background Checks Impact on Employment and Recidivism
, p. 6 (2017).

[4] Marina Duane, Nancy La Vigne, Matthew Lynch, and Emily Reimal, The Urban Institute, Justice Policy Center,

Research Report Criminal Background Checks Impact on Employment and Recidivism
, p. 1 (2017).

[5] Id.

[6] Madeline Neighly and Maurice Emsellem,
The National Employment Law Project,
Report, Wanted: Accurate FBI Background Checks for Employment
, p.1 (2013).

[7] Id.

[8] Id.

[9] Id.

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