Archive for January, 2016

Compliance Corner: Background Screen Myth Busters

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

Myth #1: I am doing a thorough background check. My service provider calls it a “national check”, and it’s fast!
The National Crime Information Center (NCIC) is the United States’ central database for tracking criminal records. The NCIC is maintained by the FBI and contains arrest records and wants/warrants that are linked with an individual’s fingerprints. The NCIC is not public information; it is available only to law enforcement, government agencies, and organizations given permission to search the records. Note: commercial background check providers cannot search the FBI’s NCIC database. There truly is no such thing as a “national” commercial criminal records search. Since third party background check providers cannot search the NCIC, these providers compile multiple sources of data into databases that are searchable by name. These searches are often referred to as “online database searches,” “name based searches,” “multi-state searches,” “screen scrapes,” and even as “national searches.” The third party provider is the owner of the database, and therefore it could even be called the “ABC Company National Search”. The jurisdictions and courts included in these databases will vary from provider to provider.

Myth #2: I use a service that offers me immediate results for my background checks.
Immediate is relative…it depends on what type of records you are checking, and the need to confirm “instant results” at the court level. Criminal records originate at the local courts (city or county) and their court records are updated as the case is processed, and eventually, decided. The local courts then “report up” – by sending their court records to the state – but the frequency of their reports and updates varies widely based on the jurisdiction.

GSN’s recent experience for county level searches of 7,858 components is reflected here:

Compliance Corner


Myth #3: I use a database service packaged product that is perfect for every background I need.
There is no “perfect” criminal records search. Criminal records may be inaccurate for a variety of reasons. First, conviction data is entered by humans, thus the margin for human error. Second, the records search may not be comprehensive. i.e.; a jurisdiction may not report into the source being used. Third, offenders may have their records expunged if they comply with the terms of their sentencing. Over-all, inaccurate information may occur due to data entry errors (including spelling errors!), identity theft, name changes, and so on. That’s why the best – and most accurate, is to gather data from local court records.

Family Courts Fail to Protect Children from Parents who Abuse Pot

Monday, January 18th, 2016

According to an article featured on the Parents Opposed to Pot website, family courts throughout America regularly fail to protect children whose parents show signs of marijuana abuse. The article states the primary reason for this neglect is caused by father rights’ lawyers and women’s groups who are more concerned about the legal rights of the abuser parents instead of considering the best interest of children. The following three cases are examples of the courts’ failures to protect children of drug abusers.

CASE ONE: In Oregon, a state that decriminalized marijuana in 1973, a 2-year old boy was killed while in custody of his mother who admitted to daily marijuana use. On March 6, 2014, 2-year old
Cotlin Salsbury was killed by his mother’s boyfriend when he bashed the boy’s head in to the toilet. The Oregon’s Department of Human Services allowed the mother to have custody, despite noting that Cotlin tested positive for THC at birth.

CASE TWO: Peyton Bean, a 4-year old girl, was nearly killed in an auto accident on September 25, 2014 when her father, who was smoking pot while driving, crashed into a tree. Prior to the accident, Peyton’s mother sought full custody of the child since the father was abusing THC. The judge ruled otherwise.

CASE THREE: During a court ordered overnight visitation, 4-year old Javon Dade, Jr. was killed by his father’s pit bull and other dogs while playing in his father’s yard. The boy’s father and his girlfriend were passed out on drugs at the time of the fatal attack. Since the father had several drug arrests for possession and dealing, Parents Opposed to Pot questions why the courts allowed visitation.

CONCLUSION: “As the United States rushes to decriminalize marijuana and pass laws to allow medical marijuana, we can expect more children to die at the hands of violent and neglectful parents.” – Parents Opposed to Pot

OCAHO Drastically Reduces ICE Penalties from 2012-2014

Monday, January 11th, 2016

Penalties for I-9 violations sought by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) during the three year period of 2012-2014 were reduced by an average of more than 40% as a result of decisions issued by the Office of Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO). Although ICE sought $1,554,883 in penalties in 2014, OCAHO assessed $1,006,925 for an average reduction of 35.25%. This reduction was lower than the two prior years of 41.5% in 2012 and 46.5% in 2013. However, this lower average reduction of penalties was the result of ICE’s second largest proposed penalty of over $300,000 was not reduced by OCAHO. Without this decision, the percentage is adjusted to 44.74% which is consistent with the percentage in 2013.

OCAHO cited the main reason for reducing penalties in at least 10 cases was the penalties were “excessive” and “unduly harsh”. Furthermore, OCAHO stated “the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act as a significant factor in finding the penalties excessive in seven cases.”

Other factors in lowering the penalties were inability to pay, the “principle of proportionality”, and that company had ceased to exist.

According to court records, 13 out of 17 cases in 2014 involved the employer failing to prepare or timely prepare, I-9 forms for the employees. OCAHO stated that this is the most common error committed by employers in cases litigated. In addition, court records show the following common clerical errors that resulted in huge ICE fines:

  • Failure to ensure the status was checked in Section 1
  • Failure to ensure Section 1 was signed
  • Failure to ensure the alien number was provided
  • Failure of the employer to sign Section 2
  • Failure to provide a document number and/or issuing authority in Section 2
  • Failure to list documents from List B and/or C

Employers want to know which industries are targeted for inspection by ICE. Although the OCAHO decisions only include cases actually litigated, those cases involve the following industries:

  • Hospitality – 5 cases
  • Food Preparation/Manufacturing – 3 cases
  • Construction – 3 cases
  • Health Care – 2 cases
  • Horse Racing – 2 cases
  • Retail – 1 case
  • Service – 1 case

A minor mistake, a careless oversight or a small violation may not seem important, but when it comes to completing the I-9 form, these trivial errors have cost employers millions of dollars in fines, penalties, judgments, lawyer fees, and lost time. As a Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA), GSN understands, follows and advises our clients on compliance and regulations while establishing a legally defensible process to ensure that even the small errors won’t cost you big bucks. Call GSN (866.792.9808) today to learn more about our Background Screening Solutions customized for your business and industry.

Opioid Overdose Epidemic Worsens

Saturday, January 9th, 2016

Heroin Death Rate Spiked 26%

The death rate for drug overdose has never been higher with 60 percent of these deaths involving opioids, according to the current CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The report stated that opioid overdose deaths, which included deaths from opioid pain relievers and heroin, increased 14 percent from 2013 to 2014. This significant increase is due in part to surges in heroin and synthetic opioids usage, especially illicitly-made fentanyl. During this period, the death rate related to heroin spiked by an alarming 26 percent.

However, the primary cause of deaths is related to natural and semi-synthetic opioids, such as commonly prescribed opioid pain relievers oxycodone and hydrocodone. The deaths caused by these types increased by 9 percent during this period. According to the report, more than 80 percent of fentanyl drug seizures in 2014 were concentrated in 10 states where heroin may be cut with illicit fentanyl. These states were located in the Midwest, Northeast and South where the use of heroin laced with fentanyl is rapidly increasing.

Here are the facts for the period of 2013-2014 from the report:
Overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids such as illicitly-made fentanyl, increased by 80 percent;
Roughly 5,500 people died from overdoses involving synthetic opioids in 2014; and
Past misuse of prescription opioid pain relievers is the strongest risk factor for heroin initiation and use. The major factors for increased heroin usage that leads to more overdose deaths:

  • Availability
  • Reduced price
  • High purity of heroin

In response to the alarming increases, the report recommends the following four ways to decrease overdose deaths:

  • Improve opioid prescribing to reduce exposure to opioids and stop addiction
  • Expand access to evidence-based substance abuse treatment, such as Medication-Assisted Treatment, for people already addicted to opioids
  • Expand access and use of naloxone—a safe antidote to reverse opioid overdose
  • Improve detection of illicit opioid use by working with state and local public health agencies, medical examiners and coroners, and law enforcement

Drugs, Crime & Money – The Impact on Society

Thursday, January 7th, 2016

Inner Cities Sub-culture Threatening America’s Traditional Way of Life

Gone are the “Happy Days” symbolized on TV by the decade of the 1950s. Gone is our innocence and along with it we lost the joy and spirit personified by such TV characters as “Richie Cunningham” and the lovable tough guy the “Fonz.” Americans no longer feel safe and secure. In fact, the average middle-class American can no longer walk in our inner city neighborhoods without fear. The once so-called ideal lifestyle featured on TV shows like “Leave it to Beaver” or “Father Knows Best” that formed the basis of the American family dream is now replaced by the nightmare caused by the effects of Drugs, Crime and Money. A lot has changed in the past decades. Instead of a party phone line, we now have smartphones. Instead of juke boxes, we now have iTunes.

Most of the changes have made an incredible positive impact on the quality of life. However, with these good changes along came what I call the “hood,” the bad and the ugly.
Hood – Increased crime to support drug habits has created a sub-culture in our inner city neighborhoods.
Bad – Money, which can be used for the good, is now supporting the bad habit of drug and alcohol abuse and addiction.
Ugly – The fresh faces of too many of our youth and young adults have been replaced by faces scared by the effects of addiction.

Drugs – A Way of Life While urban centers like Baltimore, New Orleans and San Francisco appear on the Forbes list of cities dealing with the worst drug problems, the use of illegal substances is increasing in almost every city and suburb. Although, marijuana and cocaine (crack) are still popular, heroin use is rapidly increasing along with synthetic alternatives such as “Mojo”, “Spice” and “Bath Salts” to name a few.

Crime – Drugs Play Central Role Illegal drugs play a central role in criminal acts committed in the U.S., according to the annual drug report recently released by the White House Office on National Drug Control Policy. The report showed about 71 percent of men arrested in 10 U.S. metropolitan areas during 2014 tested positive for at least one illegal substance at the time they were taken into custody. The most common drug was marijuana while cocaine was second.

Money – Economic Impact Drug abuse and addiction to tobacco, alcohol and illegal drugs costs the US economy more than $500 billion a year, according to a report by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The report states illicit drug use accounts for about $180 billion of that total while alcohol has a $185 billion a year and tobacco a $193 billion a year impact. The following are examples of how alcohol and drug misuse impacts the economy and jeopardizes safety:

  • Increased health care related costs
  • Loss of productivity
  • Excessive absenteeism and tardiness
  • Accidents
  • Crime
  • Incarceration
  • Increased law enforcement

The Cost of Abuse & Addiction An alcoholic who daily consumes two six-packs of beer spends over $3,600 annually while a smoker with a heavy nicotine habit spends about $6,000 a year. As for illegal drugs, the marijuana user spends as much as $1,000, a methamphetamine addict spends about $4,000 and those with additions to cocaine or heroin can spend more than $10,000 in a twelve month period. Gone are the Days After taking a closer look at how drugs, crime, and money have combined to changed the culture of America, it is safe to say that the so-called “good old days” are just a memory frozen in time.

By Jerry LePre

Integrity must be the Standard

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

By: Jerry LePre

The ethical standard of America is at a crossroad. Today too many people are more concerned about being politically correct instead being ethically correct even when political correctness lacks sincerity. In the past, the majority of Americans built this country on the foundation of hard work with integrity as its cornerstone. However, this standard of ethics started to disappear in the 1960s. During this decade, America’s strong foundation started to crumble. The decay began when a standard of excellence was removed from our classrooms. Instead of turning within to develop character, many people now “turn on” to themselves. As a result, they are obsessed with associating acceptance, prosperity, and success with their self-centered phony facades and inflated egos. Furthermore, the practice of putting a spin on the truth (lying) is considered more and more an acceptable practice. This popularity for spinning is due to our unwillingness to accept accountability.

Consequently, a growing segment of our society prefers to justify behavior to fit their needs at any given time. This liberal ethical philosophy professes free interpretation and justification of laws, principles, and rules based on current desires without regard to the spirit and fundamental truth of the law. This is opposite of the strict conservative philosophy, which has the black-or-white approach with issues. A third moderate philosophy balances these two extremes. This approach adapts the fundamental truth and spirit of the law to apply to current events without compromising the integrity of moral principles, virtues, and values. It combines the strength of integrity with the power of innovation. As America comes to the crossroad, it is evident that we need to return to a high ethical standard of integrity. This was the standard that made our country great. Our future depends on it.

Jerry LePre is the GSN Director of Communication