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Child Protection Improvements Act - Senate Does Not Consider - Instead Passes Pilot Extention
Child Protection Improvements Act (S1598)
Senate will not consider the bill during this session, instead,
One-Year Extension of the PROTECT Act Pilot Passes Senate
The Senate will not be considering the Child Protection Improvements Act (CPIA) this session of Congress. However, on the evening of December 2, 2010 the Senate passed a one-year extension of the pilot program that allows ACA camps (and a few other youth-serving organziations) to conduct fingerprint-based FBI checks on volunteers. The measure, which passed by unanimous consent, will extend the pilot until Dec. 31, 2011. We will push for the passage of the CPIA in the next Congress.
ACA Position (excerpt)
- ACA supports the establishment of a comprehensive federal biometric-based criminal background checking system that is reasonable in cost, timely in response, uniform in availability to camps across the country regardless of sponsorship, and consistent in the information provided.
- Biometric-based (e.g., fingerprints) background checks are the only way to ensure the identity of an individual.
- There is not one all-encompassing background check database available in this country. (“C.S.I.” has misled us.)
- While still not all encompassing, an FBI check is the best background check available, but it is not always accessible or feasible for camps. The FBI check is the only truly nationwide check available.
- Individual states are the gatekeepers of criminal history information and they can decide who can access the information, and who can have access to the FBI’s information. In fact, thirty-four states bar access to FBI information! Those that do allow access to the FBI information charge significant fees (ranging from $24 - $59 per person), and have large turn-around times of up to six weeks.
- The PROTECT Act of 2004 created a pilot program whereby selected youth serving organizations would have access to timely, inexpensive FBI background checks on potential volunteers. ACA is an active participant in the pilot.
Data From the Pilot – Results are alarming
- Of the nearly 40,000 checks conducted, 6.1% of all applicants were found to have criminal records that rendered them unfit to work with children! (This included convictions of criminal sexual conduct with a child, aggravated criminal assault, rape, homicide, and other “serious” felonies.)
- 40% of these individuals had a criminal record from other states, meaning that only a nationwide check would have caught the criminal record
- 26% of these individuals showed a different name on their record than the one they used to apply
What the Child Protection Improvements Act Will Do:
- Ensure that youth-serving organizations will have access to fingerprint-based criminal records checks of the F.B.I. database in a timely and affordable manner.
- Protect the privacy rights of those being checked by ensuring that the specifics of a criminal record are not disclosed without explicit consent and giving them the opportunity to correct errors in records.
- What it does not do: It does not tell a camp who they can and cannot employ. It simply reports on what is found in the criminal record. It is up to the camp to determine hire-ability based on state laws and the camp’s own thresholds for acceptable criminal records.