Background Checks

Here’s an interesting twist on court checks everyone should seriously consider.  In 2001 a young man went on a killing spree in California.  In all, four people were killed when the murderer intentionally drove his car into a crowd of young people.  He was charged with murder but found “not guilty by reason of insanity.”  He was at least sent to a state mental institution but released in 2012.

Now, here’s the twist that ought to make prospective employers wince.  Because this individual was found not guilty he wasn’t classified as a convicted felon, so there is no court record of what he did and he isn’t required to tell prospective employers anything about his past!

At least one state, Indiana, has a solution to this type of horrible situation.  The Indiana General Assembly past a law whereby people who would otherwise be found not guilty by reason of insanity are found “guilty but insane.”  This law created a couple of things that will help employers.  First, there is a record of the felony conviction that can be found.  Second, the individual is sent to a mental institution until such time as he or she is determined to be sane and then that person is sent to prison for however long the sentence was at the time the individual was determined to be “guilty but insane.”  Why more states haven’t adopted this legislation is difficult to understand.

The prosecutor in the case mentioned above said, “It’s not a matter of if he will ever become violent again, but when.”  The finding of “not guilty by reason of insanity” leaves employers in the impossible situation of not being to find out if a candidate for employment might be a mass killer or not.  Without a finding of guilt, there is no record to uncover.

There is a way, however, to check out situations like this one.  The answer is to do a media search!  Most of the time a high profile case like the one described above will have been covered by at least one media outlet – a newspaper, local TV or radio station, and it will be on the Internet.  A media search is a very useful tool more employers should consider using in instances where no court record exists but, clearly, where a risk of harm to others exists.