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View Diary: 45 Million Americans Have a Criminal Record...Help Us to Raise Awareness... (15 comments)

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  •  I work in law enforcement in florida (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    el dorado gal, Marinesquire, DaNang65

    and I help people deal with criminal history issues all day. This is a problem that i suspect almost no one really knows about and it will be very difficult to generate a groundswell for but it must be addresseed.
     In Florida anytime someone makes an accusation against another person and charges are filed the person standing accused has a criminal history. So if for example someone were to accuse me of sexual contact with a minor, in Florida before any trial or evidence is collected that charge is now part of a public record with my name and arrest information available to anyone who wants to see it.  Here's the kicker, let's say that during even the most cursory of investigations the authorities find that I was not even in the county where the alleged crime took place guess what happens to that public record? nothing, thats right its still available for the whole world to see and its my responsibility to get it removed, but wait it gets better. The process for removing a bogus criminal charge in florida is called seal/expunge and it is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
     So lets say I have had one bogus arrest due to a  phony charge and a charge that I was actually responsible for, lets say driving with a suspended driver's license. If I was convicted for the driving charge, there is literally NO WAY to remove the sexual contact charge, none, nada, zip, ZERO ways to take if off of my permenant criminal history. If I was fortunate enough to have not been convicted of the thing I did do, I can try to have the sexual contact charge removed which will cost me $75 (which is cost prohibitive when you havent worked for a while because of your criminal history).
     I have asked a few co-workers how this system makes sense, they seem to believe that what the State of Florida does is legitimate, all we do they reason is "accurately report" criminal history activity. While thats true, it fails to acknowledge the very simple ramification of that, if someone comes to the state for a criminal history for a potential hiree and they see a charge for sexual contact with a minor, why are they going to hire me? why are they going to consider hiring me? they wont, forget the fact that, that particular charge was dropped, they dont care and they dont want to deal with it.
     The reason I know that this fight, which I will argue until my dying day is well worth having, will be difficult to garner support for, is that people without criminal histories dont usually care about those that do. Here in Florida most of my co-workers are pretty conservatie, they see criminals as people who have to be punished and if the punishment last a lifetime, tough titty.

    After they drove the car into the ditch, made it as difficult as possible for us to pull it back, now they want to keys back. No! You can't drive!

    by tygerwilde on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 09:13:50 AM PDT

    •  Hoe many parents have I heard say: (0+ / 0-)

      "My kid isn't bad, he just made a mistake"? Other people's kids - not so much.

      This is my point (above) about fines/costs/ and fees - it's too easy for the legislators to cost-shift paying for public services by adding costs to defendants rather than raising taxes because no voter thinks they are going to be the one's paying those costs.

      Also - many private background check companies take a "snapshot in time" of the publicly available criminal histories. So, even if you get something dismisssed or expunged (or if you get acquitted), it may still exist in a private database and be reported to a potential employer.

      I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. - Major General Smedley D. Butler, USMC

      by Marinesquire on Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 11:00:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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