I read an article recently about how easy, quick and inexpensive it is to perform an arrest records check on employment candidates. I want to share with you what a bad idea it would be to base a hiring decision on nothing more than an arrest record!
As far as employability is concerned, an arrest really means nothing. Why? Because being arrested is entirely different than being convicted of an offense. Not everyone who is arrested or charged with committing a crime is guilty. Our legal system is built around the notion that everyone is innocent until it is proven that they are not! It would be a gross disservice to disqualify a candidate for employment on the mere accusation of having committed as crime, regardless of what the crime might be.
In addition, the reality is that people make mistakes. Sometimes the wrong person is accused of committing a crime; sometimes there is an unintentional misidentification of the person who supposedly committed the crime. These are just two of the errors that can occur, and both illustrate that it is wrong to impute guilt simply on the basis of an arrest!
A far better solution for an employment candidate is to check conviction records. And even then, there is no database that lists 100% of all convictions throughout the United States. Anyone who says they have access to a data-base of convictions covering all the counties in all 50 states, that person simply isn’t telling the truth. There is a national criminal database that can be useful, but even it is not a complete or totally accurate record of all criminal convictions. For example, it doesn’t include misdemeanor convictions, which are crimes, too. They’re just less serious ones.
The best advice I can offer is to check as many sources as possible, starting with court records in the candidate’s current county of residence and the county where he works. Then, perform a statewide database check and conclude the effort by checking the national criminal database. Remember, a candidate may have a clean record in his current home county but have been convicted for all sorts of crimes in another county or state.
Finally, forget about checking arrest records for the reasons previously mentioned. They don’t mean anything and it would be totally unfair to disqualify a candidate for employment on the basis of nothing more than an arrest.