CORI reform; Fix it, but not at the expense of public safety.COLUMN: IN OUR OPINION
Gov. Deval L. Patrick has called upon the Legislature to reform the state's Criminal Offender offender n. an accused defendant in a criminal case or one convicted of a crime. (See: defendant, accused) Record Information Act this year. Any changes should be approached with caution.
Mr. Patrick has not filed new legislation. Instead, he is urging lawmakers to work out a compromise from among the 30 or so CORI bills already filed.
Many of the proposals stem from a campaign by advocates and former offenders who argue that the 35-year-old CORI is an impediment A disability or obstruction that prevents an individual from entering into a contract.
Infancy, for example, is an impediment in making certain contracts. Impediments to marriage include such factors as consanguinity between the parties or an earlier marriage that is still valid. to rehabilitation rehabilitation: see physical therapy. . Many employers refuse to hire anyone with a criminal record, they say, even if it includes not-guilty findings and dismissals.
That may be true, but some of the proposals go too far - such as placing narrow limits on access to CORI records by employers and others with legitimate need for such information, and reducing drastically dras·tic
1. Severe or radical in nature; extreme: the drastic measure of amputating the entire leg; drastic social change brought about by the French Revolution.
2. the time before criminal records are sealed.
While some advocates see CORI as a privacy issue, in fact all of the information in CORI records is public information that can be obtained from a variety of sources; CORI makes the information more readily available on a central database. Also part of CORI are provisions intended to ensure individuals are not stigmatized unfairly by past crimes. The law strictly limits what criminal records are available to crime victims, witnesses, law enforcement agencies A law enforcement agency (LEA) is a term used to describe any agency which enforces the law. This may be a local or state police, federal agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). , employers and news organizations.
In most cases, people who have paid their debt to society through incarceration Confinement in a jail or prison; imprisonment.
Police officers and other law enforcement officers are authorized by federal, state, and local lawmakers to arrest and confine persons suspected of crimes. The judicial system is authorized to confine persons convicted of crimes. , probation, community service and the like should be given every reasonable opportunity to get on with their lives.
However, public safety demands that potential employers have access to information about job applicants. Employers in child or elder care need to know if applicants have histories of molestation molestation n. the crime of sexual acts with children up to the age of 18, including touching of private parts, exposure of genitalia, taking of pornographic pictures, rape, inducement of sexual acts with the molester or with other children, and variations of these or abuse, for instance, and financial institutions need to know if potential hires have histories of theft.
Overall, CORI appears to serve its intended purpose of safeguarding public safety. However, steps to ensure the accuracy of the records and make CORI rules less susceptible to misinterpretation would improve both the effectiveness and fairness of the law.