Pre-Employ Blog

Texas: 32% of Criminal background Check Convictions Missed.

Posted by Bob Mather on May 13, 2015

crime-sceneHighlights from our internal analysis. Read more below

  • 638 individuals screened for Texas Criminal records
  • 135 individuals with criminal records were found
  • 43 were not reported by TXDPS
  • 89  unique criminal record cases were not reported by the TXDPS
  • 26  of these unique records are felonies
  • 63 of these unique records are MisdemeanorsOur facts:

After an internal evaluation of Texas Department of Public Safety criminal record accuracy, Pre-employ.com is urging employers who screen individuals in the state of Texas to contest two bills currently being considered (TX BILLS H2700 & H4114).

In our opinion, these two bills significantly undermine public safety and were recently reported out of committee.

Basically, H2700 has these two components:
  • Any person/organization wishing to purchase court records “in bulk” for Class B felony and higher cases would only be able to purchase them through the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS).
  • All clerks, courts or agencies fulfilling records requests for Class C and lower records must publish the requestor’s name and contact information on the court/agency’s website or post it in a prominent place.

The stated reasons for the proposed legislation is to ease the workload on individual county clerks in fulfilling information, to ensure the accuracy of records being released, and to promote greater transparency in government, but legitimate background screening firms and records wholesalers can immediately recognize the problems with this bill.

The first is timeliness; under current Texas law, clerks are only required to update the DPS data once per month but they are on an “honor system” to do it and there are no penalties for failure to do so. A state audit of the records database in 2011 found that some of the largest counties in the state – Dallas, Travis (Austin), Hidalgo and Cameron (along the Mexican border), Bexar (San Antonio), and Tarrant (Fort Worth) – were found to have submitted 1% or less of their court records to DPS.

The second (and most important) problem is accuracy. A state audit of the records database in 2011 found that “prosecutor offices and courts had submitted disposition records to the Computerized Criminal History System for 73.68 percent of arrests made in 2009” and “users may not receive a reliable result from criminal history background checks that are conducted based on the data in that system.” A San Antonio television station showed some even more alarming flaws in the system in an investigative report the following year in which convicted murderers sitting on Texas’ Death Row still didn’t have any criminal records on file at DPS.

Pre-employ.com’s internal investigation found that 32% of applicants submitted to the TDPS for a criminal history check had criminal records not reported by the agency.

Pre-employ.com screened 638 individuals for clients that currently or previously lived in the State of Texas.

  • 638 individuals screened for Texas Criminal records
  • 135 individuals with criminal records were found
  • 43 were not reported by TXDPS
  • 89  unique criminal record cases were not reported by the TXDPS
  • 26  of these unique records are felonies
  • 63 of these unique records are Misdemeanors

A sampling of the records missed by the TXDPS are:

  • Pending/open case Felony (Computer Security Breach)
  • Assault with a deadly weapon
  • Burglary of habitation by force
  • Assault of a public servant
  • 3 pending warrants for arrest
  • 2014 felony assault
  • And more

 

In the case of HB4114, while intending to address dissemination of mug shots, this bill is overly broad and applies unreasonable requirements on the dissemination of other criminal history data.

For instance, the bill includes a notice provision that requires a business to notify by mail or telephone each individual whose criminal record information is being published or disseminated of that fact. Such a requirement would be unduly burdensome as a general matter and in some cases impossible with which to comply. Even more troubling, however, is the fact that such a requirement would undermine law enforcement and other investigations by either limiting access to relevant criminal history data or by tipping off criminals to the fact that they are being investigated. 

Download The Free State Of Texas Audit HERE!

  Download Free Audit Report Here

Additional resources:

Bill Text: https://legiscan.com/TX/bill/HB2700/2015
              https://legiscan.com/TX/drafts/HB4114/2015

Here is some more information that you may be interest in:

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" About Criminal Records

School Administrator had Criminal Record that University Didn't Know About

 

KENS-TV investigative report: http://www.kens5.com/story/news/local/2014/06/20/11071797/

 

 

 

Topics: Texas, Background Checks, criminal history, criminal record

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