Checking Criminal Records: Are Sex Offenders a Protected Class?

checking criminal recordsHave you ever spent your whole day dealing with sex offenders?  I hope not. However, checking criminal records lends itself to days like this. And yesterday was one of those days for me.  Before finishing my first cup of java I was reviewing the pending background check of a physician who has been successful at removing his name from the state and national sex offender registry.  He was convicted and served time for child pornography.

This is certainly not new territory for me.  I was a violent crime detective with the Metro Nashville Police Department and have spent the past 20 years traveling the U.S. and Europe speaking at conferences on issues of violence against women and children.  

And violence against women and children is a topic that can really pinch the nerve of a perpetrator.  There have been times I have pinched so hard that it drew a comment from a participant.  No shock because every speaking engagement has perpetrators and victims represented.  I understand the math.

Usually the perpetrator waits and writes me a scathing note in the evaluation.  I take the comments as validation I am saying the right things.

Let me shout this from the rooftops:  I have no problem pinching the nerves of perpetrators in the defense of victims.  And I will never apologize for standing up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.  

After reviewing the sex offender record, I stumbled across a comment on a recent blog post I had written about sex offenders volunteering at a VA hospital.  In the past month, I have fielded many “spirited” comments from defenders of the rights of sex offenders.

Notice I say defenders because none of those commenting self-disclosed.  However, I can read between the lines.  

I thought the most recent comment might provide some valuable insight.  I will break this comment down to make it easier to dig into:

Anonymous Comment (AC):“The story was misleading and you obviously have no knowledge of ex sex offenders or of the legal system.”

Me:  Well, there is not a lick of valid research that would confirm that a sex offender ever reaches a category of “ex sex offender”.  Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic.  The research is actually quite clear that sex offenders have an extremely high recidivism rate.  And, yes I do have an understanding of the legal system having been a violent crime detective and working with victims that had been raped, abused and murdered. Unfortunately, the criminal justice system rarely keeps its promise to victims of crime.

AC:  “You don't know who on the registry is actually guilty.  You are not familiar with their individual cases.”

Me:  Yes, I do.  Everybody listed on the registry has been convicted by a jury or a judge.  Have innocent people been convicted of crimes?  Yes.  However, there are far more offenders that should be on the list that are not than innocent people on the registry.

AC:  I have passed a background check and a suitability board by people who actually do know my situation.

Me:  Background check is so vague.  Was that a cheap database search?  Reference check?  How does the board know the situation?  Was the victim given a voice?

AC:  I have been through hell to get where I am serving my fellow veterans as an employee and volunteer and this guy would rather have me on the streets selling dope and and running prostitutes.

Me:  I cannot speak for someone I don’t know.  But I can tell you that I don’t want anybody on the streets selling dope or “running prostitutes.”  I have committed my entire life to crime prevention.

AC:  Ex sex offenders have been working there for decades and they just now are raising hell?

Me:  I agree.  They should have addressed this a long time ago.  

The State of Illinois is quite the contrast.  They have passed a law that suspends the license for health care workers who are convicted sex offenders or violent offenders.  

Thank you Illinois for swinging the pendulum back to safety and security.  

If you are not checking criminal records, contact us today and we will show you how easy and inexpensive background screening can be.  

Your Turn: It goes without saying I am very passionate about protecting victims.   Whether you agree, disagree or think I am crazy, I value your opinion.  What are your thoughts on sex offenders volunteering in hospitals?  Do you agree or disagree that a sex offender can become an “ex sex offender”?

Katie bar the door, I am sure the discussion will be lively!