Massachusetts today launched a new online system to check criminal backgrounds that would provide wider and easier access for employers, but limit their searches of criminal history to 10 years back, the Boston Globe reports. The time limit, part of a new law updating the Criminal Offender Record Information system (CORI), is prompting a debate that pits the rights of employers to know the history of job applicants against the needs of people with decades-old convictions to work and move ahead with their lives.
It is raising questions about the role of lightly regulated background-screening companies, which can dig back into court records, sometimes reporting erroneous information to employers. A coalition of 125 community organizations, religious institutions, and labor unions has proposed barring screening companies from using the state's central system if they rely on court records to gather more information than they can get in the registry. The National Association of Professional Background Screeners, based in Schaumberg, Il., opposes limits on gathering information. “We find that we have more accurate information when we go to the primary source,” said board member Christine Cunneen of Hire Image, a Rhode Island screening company.