Felons Crossing State Lines Pose Hiring Threat, Says Screening Firm

October 20, 2008

According to a recent investigative series in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, between 1.9 and 2.7 million felony fugitives (including rapists and murderers) have eluded capture by crossing state lines.

Post-Dispatch reporters found a persistent problem with outstanding warrants across the country. If local or county police departments don’t enter all their warrants in the FBI database, fugitives not listed in the database can escape detection for their prior crimes.

Experts warn that companies that unknowingly hire felons or fugitives put themselves at increased risk of embezzlement, fraud, lawsuits and workplace violence.

Tampa-based Accu-Screen, Inc., an employment background screening company, says it frequently uncovers job candidates with criminal records or fraudulent credentials when it conducts background searches for employers.

Accu-Screen uses a network of field agents to retrieve criminal record information at the local, county and state level, as opposed to relying on FBI database searches.

“It’s alarming that so many criminals get away with their crimes and go on to victimize new people in another state,” says Kevin Connell, chief executive officer of Accu-Screen. “Our on-the-ground criminal background searches result in a more accurate ‘criminal hit ratio,’ which prevents these law-breakers from endangering companies.”

There have been several recent reports about this employment screening situation:

A statewide dragnet across Florida last month dubbed “Operation Orange Crush” led to the arrest of 2497 fugitives, including those of 113 homicide suspects, 255 sex offenders and 55 gang members. The U.S. Marshalls-led sweep targeted the “worst of the worst” offenders. According to the Post Dispatch report, 35 percent of felony warrants in Florida are not entered into the FBI database.

Organizers of Philadelphia’s “Fugitive Safe Surrender” program were astonished when 1205 felons turned themselves in at a local church in mid-September. The program was designed to encourage non-violent fugitives to settle their outstanding warrants.

More than one-third of all felony warrants are not entered into the FBI’s National Crime Information Center database checked by police across the country.

Local police often refuse to pick up fugitives from other states, even when they’re wanted for violent crimes.

Source: Accu-Screen, Inc.

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