Seantor Leland Yee Reforms Criminal Background Check Policy for Youth Organizations

Over in Sacramento, San Mateo and San Francisco Counties’ very own Senator Leland Yee, PhD is still busy, busy, busy with new bills.

Senate Bill SB447 is no-brainer about reforming criminal background check policies for California youth organizations. It’s only a matter of time before this one becomes law. Read on below and after the jump. 

Bill would Reform Criminal Background Check Policy for Youth Organizations
Yee’s legislation would help protect children in youth programs from predators, violent criminals

SACRAMENTO – Last week, Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) introduced legislation to help protect children involved in youth organizations from sexual predators and other violent criminals.  Senate Bill 447 would reform the criminal background check policy at the approximately 36,000 youth organizations and human resource agencies across the state that work with children and vulnerable populations. 
 
Such organizations, including the Boy Scouts and youth soccer leagues, are currently required to conduct criminal background checks of their staff and members.  Each group appoints a “Custodian of Records” to review the background checks for their organization and assess if a person’s criminal history poses a potential danger to the population the agency or organization serves.
 
However, there is a dangerous loophole in the law.  The Custodian of Records also reviews his or her own criminal record that is sent to the group by the California Department of Justice (DOJ).  This loophole may result in an individual who has been convicted of a violent crime or crimes against children serving as the Custodian of Records without others in the agency being aware of his/her criminal history.
 
“SB 447 will help protect children from predators and other violent criminals by closing an obvious loophole in the law,” said Yee.  “Those determining who can work with children should not be reviewing their own records and determining if they are fit to serve.  Parents deserve assurance that their kids are safe when they are dropped off at a soccer practice or scouts meeting.”
 
Specifically, SB 447 will close this loophole by creating a program in which the DOJ will review the criminal record information for Custodian of Records applicants and confirm if they are suited for the position. The DOJ will ensure that the people appointed to this position do not have a felony or any offense involving moral turpitude, dishonesty, or fraud. The program will be funded by a $30 fee for all Custodian of Records applicants.
 
In 1997, a student at Rio Linda High School was raped and murdered by a temporary janitor with a previous criminal record, including two strikes for voluntary manslaughter and armed robbery.  At the time, another loophole in state law existed that did not require temporary or substitute employees to go through criminal background checks.  The brutal murder of Michelle Montoya prompted the Legislature to change state law – banning the hiring of felons and requiring complete background checks of all school employees, including temporary and substitute workers.
 
“Unfortunately, it took the loss of an innocent life for the law to change regarding temporary school employees,” said Yee.  “It is vital that we are proactive and close the loophole regarding Custodians of Records before we have another unnecessary tragedy.”

BILL NUMBER: SB 447 INTRODUCED
BILL TEXT

INTRODUCED BY   Senator Yee

                        FEBRUARY 26, 2009

   An act to add Section 1102.2 to the Penal Code, relating to
criminal records.

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

   SB 447, as introduced, Yee. Criminal records: custodian.
   Existing law generally regulates how criminal records are
maintained.
   This bill would, commencing January 1, 2011, require the
Department of Justice to establish, implement, and maintain a
confirmation program to process fingerprint-based criminal record
background clearances on individuals designated by an agency as a
custodian of records. The bill would require agencies to designate a
custodian of records, and to annually notify the department as to the
identity of the agency’s custodian of records.
   By imposing additional duties on local agencies, this bill would
impose a state-mandated local program.
   The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local
agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the
state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that
reimbursement.
   This bill would provide that, if the Commission on State Mandates
determines that the bill contains costs mandated by the state,
reimbursement for those costs shall be made pursuant to these
statutory provisions.
   Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: yes.
State-mandated local program: yes.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

  SECTION 1.  Section 1102.2 is added to the Penal Code, to read:
   1102.2.  (a) (1) As used in this section, “custodian of records”
means the individual designated by an agency as responsible for the
security, storage, dissemination, and destruction of the criminal
records furnished to the agency and who serves as the primary contact
for the Department of Justice for any related issues.
   (2) As used in this section, “agency” means any public or private
entity that receives criminal history information from the Department
of Justice.
   (3) As used in this section, “department” means the Department of
Justice.
   (b) Commencing January 1, 2011, the department shall establish,
implement, and maintain a confirmation program to process
fingerprint-based criminal record background clearances on
individuals designated by agencies as custodians of records.
Commencing July 1, 2011, no person shall serve as an agency custodian
of records unless confirmed by the department. Criminal justice
agency personnel who have undergone a state and federal criminal
record background check are exempt from the requirements of this
section. The department shall charge a fee of thirty dollars ($30) to
cover the costs of the confirmation program in addition to a fee
sufficient to cover the cost of processing the appropriate state and
federal level criminal record background check.
   (c) Every agency must designate at least one custodian of records.

   (1) The agency shall submit to the department the fingerprint
images and related information of the individual or individuals
designated by the agency to serve as custodians of records, along
with the appropriate fees and documentation. The department shall
retain one copy of the fingerprint impressions to process a state
level criminal record background check, and it shall submit one copy
of the fingerprint impressions of each individual to the Federal
Bureau of Investigation to process a federal level criminal record
background check.
   (2) The department shall retain the fingerprint impressions for
subsequent arrest notification pursuant to Section 11105.2.
   (d) Every individual confirmed as a custodian of records shall be
at least 18 years of age and shall have completed and submitted a
written application prescribed by the department.
   (e) Prior to confirming an individual as a custodian of records,
the department shall determine that the applicant possesses the
required honesty, credibility, truthfulness, and integrity to fulfill
the responsibilities of the position.
   (f) The department shall not confirm any individual who has been
convicted of a felony offense or any other offense that involves
moral turpitude, dishonesty, or fraud, or that the applicant’s
ability to perform the duties or responsibilities of a custodian of
records. The confirmation shall be revoked if, at any time, the
individual is convicted of either a felony offense, or any other
offense that involves moral turpitude, dishonesty, or fraud, or that
the applicant’s ability to perform the duties or responsibilities of
a custodian of records.
   (g) In addition to subdivision (f), the department may refuse to
confirm any individual as a custodian of records or revoke or suspend
the confirmation of any custodian of records if the individual has
done any of the following:
   (1) Made a substantial and material misstatement or omission in
the application submitted to the department.
   (2) Been convicted of an offense of a nature incompatible with the
duties of a custodian of records. A conviction after a plea of nolo
contendere is deemed to be a conviction within the meaning of this
subdivision.
   (3) Failed to discharge fully and faithfully any of the duties or
responsibilities required of a custodian of records.
   (4) Been adjudged liable for damages in any suit grounded in
fraud, misrepresentation, or in violation of the state regulatory
laws, or in any suit based upon a failure to discharge fully and
faithfully the duties of a custodian of records.
   (5) Committed of any act involving dishonesty, fraud, or deceit.
   (6) Failed to submit any remittance payable upon demand by the
department under this section or failed to satisfy any court ordered
money judgment, including restitution.
   (h) The agency shall immediately notify the department when the
designated custodian of records no longer serves in that capacity. By
March 1, 2012, and by March 1 each year thereafter, the agency shall
notify the department, using a form provided by the department, of
the individual or individuals currently serving in the capacity of
custodian of records.
  SEC. 2.  If the Commission on State Mandates determines that this
act contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement to local
agencies and school districts for those costs shall be made pursuant
to Part 7 (commencing with Section 17500) of Division 4 of Title 2 of
the Government Code.

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