A Background Check Saved Jaycee Lee Dugard

policeofficersLast week we wrote about the breaking news that Jaycee Lee Dugard was found.  After the story broke, details began to surface about how this story unfolded. It appears that the talent and intuition of two female officers led this incredible rescue of Jaycee Lee Dugard and her two daughters, Starlite and Angel.  After being suspicious the two female officers, Ally Jacobs and Lisa Campbell decided to run a background check on Phillip Garrido and his wife Nancy Garrido.  Obviously a far reach the type of background check used to screen employees but an obvious statement on the power of information!

How Jaycee Lee Dugard was found: U.C. Berkeley Police describe Dugard’s children Starlite and Angel

While America rejoices at the return of Jaycee Lee Dugard and her two daughters, and awaits a glimpse of Jaycee today, or even to see a current photo or picture of Jaycee Dugard, one thing is certain. Jaycee Lee Dugard would not have been found was it not for the heroic bravery of two female officers working for the University of Berkeley California Police Department: U.C. Berkeley police officer Alison Jacobs and U.C. Berkeley police official Lisa Campbell.

On Wednesday, August 26, 2009 both Phillip Garrido and his wife, Nancy Garrido were arrested and the true identity of Jaycee Lee Dugard was revealed. However, it was only due to the quick actions by Officers Allison (Ally) Jacobs and Lisa Campbell that the perpetrators were apprehended. Call it female intuition or maybe even a woman’s instinct, but both women state that when they saw the trio, Phillip Garrido and his two daughters, Starlite and Angel Dugard, something didn’t seem right.

Lisa Campbell states, “He had two little girls with him and they didn’t look right. Monday, August 24, 2009, Phillip Garrido had visited Lisa Campbell in her office, approaching her for approval for a crusade he had planned. The event was to promote his group “God’s Desire,” and he told Campbell that the event would be huge and that the government would be involved. Observing Phillip Garrido and his two daughters, Starlite and Angel, she found him to be erratic and the girls sullen and submissive. Acting on bravery, intuition, and insight Lisa Campbell scheduled a second appointment with Phillip Garrido. She had scheduled for him to return to her office on Tuesday, August 25, 2009 at 2:00 p.m. She took his name and before he would return the next day, Officer Ally Jacobs had run a background check.


Jaycee Lee Dugard Kidnapped in 1991 found

Another example of how dangerous sex offenders can be.  Perhaps if the offender, Phillip Garrido had a job and not his own business he would have been caught.  Unfortunately, background screening is not done to give someone a business license and operate a company from their home.

Woman kidnapped as an 11-year-old in ’91 found
The alleged abductor and his wife are held. Officials believe that he fathered two girls with the victim.

A woman kidnapped nearly two decades ago when she was an 11-year-old on her way to school was discovered in the Bay Area this week after her alleged abductor aroused the suspicions of a UC Berkeley police officer, authorities revealed Thursday as they began investigating the bizarre case.

Authorities said Phillip Garrido, a registered sex offender, and his wife, Nancy, kept Jaycee Lee Dugard in a ramshackle warren of sheds, tents and tarps behind a fence in the backyard of a home in Antioch, northeast of Oakland.

They believe that Garrido, whom acquaintances described as a “religious fanatic,” fathered two daughters with Dugard, who is now 29. The girls are 11 and 15.

Dugard was reunited with her mother Thursday in an East Bay motel. The Garridos were being held in the El Dorado County Jail in Placerville. They are to be arraigned today.

Dressed in pink, Dugard was walking the few blocks to her bus stop in June 1991 when two people in a car snatched her from her South Lake Tahoe neighborhood. Her stepfather, who witnessed the abduction, leapt on a mountain bike in pursuit.

In the 18 years since, Dugard, whom the Garridos called Allissa, has never been back to school or to the doctor. Nor have her daughters, authorities said.

“It’s a miracle that we got her back,” Carl Probyn, her stepfather, said in an interview at his home in Orange as he displayed pictures of his stepdaughter. “How do you get 18 years back? . . . I just hope that she can have a decent life from here on out. Her life kind of stopped at 11.”

Neighbors and acquaintances said Garrido — who was convicted of rape and kidnapping in 1971 and has been on federal parole since — ran a print shop out of his house, introduced the three as his children and was religious but not aligned with any organized ministry.

A blog called “Voices Revealed,” registered to the 58-year-old Garrido, says God has given him the ability “to speak in the tongue of angels in order to provide a wake-up call that will in time include the salvation of the entire world.”

Garrido’s chance encounter with an officer at UC Berkeley on Tuesday unlocked the mystery of Dugard’s disappearance.

At a packed news conference Thursday in Placerville, El Dorado County Undersheriff Fred Kollar said Garrido and Dugard’s two daughters had gone to the campus to hand out fliers and hold an event of a religious nature.

“A UC police officer observed them and thought the interaction between the older male and the two young females was rather suspicious,” Kollar said.

Standard university procedure requires that anyone handing out literature on campus undergo a background check, Kollar said. During that check, the officer discovered that Garrido had been convicted of rape and kidnapping in Nevada, was incarcerated in federal prison in Kansas, and was later paroled to California.

“Federal parole in his particular case,” Kollar said, “lasts a lifetime.”

On Wednesday, Garrido went to the Concord parole office to meet with his parole officer. It is unclear, Kollar said, if he was ordered to show up or if he volunteered. But he arrived with his wife, Dugard and the two girls.

“During interviews with the three of them — the two suspects and Jaycee — sufficient information was determined from all three of them that Jaycee was who she was purported to be and that these two people only had information that the kidnappers could have known,” Kollar said.

The Garridos were arrested Wednesday.

In a rambling, sometimes incoherent, phone interview with Sacramento station KCRA-TV Thursday, Garrido said that he had not admitted to a kidnapping and that he had turned his life around since the birth of his first daughter 15 years ago.

“I tell you here’s the story of what took place at this house and you’re going to be absolutely impressed. It’s a disgusting thing that took place from the end to the beginning. But I turned my life completely around,” he said.

It was unclear Thursday exactly when Garrido was in and out of prison. Kollar said he was convicted in 1971 on the Nevada federal kidnapping and rape charges.


SSA No-Match Letters Update

The following is being reported to us via the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS)

On August 19th the below Proposed Rule (provided in part) was published in the Federal Register announcing the rescission of regulations which would have placed onerous requirements on employers relating to the receipt of no-match letters from the Social Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security. Essentially, under the amendments proposed by DHS, receipt of a no-match letter may have been sufficient, by itself, to put an employer on notice, and thus impart constructive knowledge, that employees referenced in the letter may not be work- authorized.  Employers should note however that DHS’ rescission of these regulations is because instead they will focus on immigration compliance through E-Verify, IMAGE and other verification programs.

Safe-Harbor Procedures for Employers Who Receive a No-Match Letter: Rescission

SUMMARY: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposes to amend its regulations by rescinding the amendments promulgated on August 15, 2007, and October 28, 2008, relating to procedures that employers may take to acquire a safe harbor from receipt of no-match letters. Implementation of the 2007 final rule was preliminarily enjoined by the United States District Court for the Northern District of California on October 10, 2007. After further review, DHS has determined to focus its enforcement efforts relating to the employment of aliens not authorized to work in the United States on increased compliance through improved verification, including participation in E-Verify, ICE Mutual Agreement Between Government and Employers (IMAGE), and other programs.

DATES: Comments must be submitted not later than September 18, 2009.

What led up to the Rescission of the Rule?
As stated in the Federal Register. Over the years, employers have inquired of the former Immigration and Naturalization Service, and now DHS, whether receipt of a no-match letter constitutes constructive knowledge on the part of the employer that he or she may have hired an alien who is not authorized to work in the United States. On August 15, 2007, DHS issued a rule describing the legal obligations of an employer following receipt of a no-match letter from SSA or a letter from DHS regarding employment verification forms. See 72 FR 45611. The rule also established “safe-harbor” procedures for employers receiving no-match letters.

On August 29, 2007, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, and others, filed suit seeking declaratory and injunctive relief in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. AFL-CIO, et al. v. Chertoff, et al., No. 07-4472-CRB, D.E. 1 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 29, 2007). The district court granted plaintiffs’ initial motion for a temporary restraining order against implementation of the August 2007 Final Rule. AFL-CIO v. Chertoff, D.E. 21 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 31, 2007) (order granting motion for temporary restraining order and setting schedule for briefing and hearing on preliminary injunction). On October 10, 2007, the district court granted the plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction. AFL- CIO v. Chertoff, 552 F.Supp.2d 999 (N.D. Cal. 2007) (order granting motion for preliminary injunction).

The court raised three issues regarding DHS’s rulemaking action implementing the No-Match final rule: Whether DHS had (1) supplied a reasoned analysis to justify what the court viewed as a change in the Department’s position–that a no-match letter may be sufficient, by itself, to put an employer on notice, and thus impart constructive knowledge, that employees referenced in the letter may not be work- authorized; (2) exceeded its authority (and encroached on the authority of the Department of Justice (DOJ)) by interpreting the anti- discrimination provisions of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), Public Law 99-603, 100 Stat. 3359 (1986), INA section 274B, 8 U.S.C. 1324b; and (3) violated the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C 601 et seq., by not conducting a regulatory flexibility analysis. DHS subsequently published a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking (SNPRM) and supplemental final rule to clarify certain aspects of the 2007 No-Match final rule and to respond to the three findings underlying the court’s injunction.. See e.g. 73 FR 15944 (Mar. 26, 2008), 73 FR 63843 (Oct. 28, 2008). Neither the SNPRM nor final rule, however, changed the safe-harbor procedures or applicable regulatory text. The implementation of the rule remains enjoined.

Basis for the Administration’s Policy Change?
As stated in the Federal Register notice.  On January 20, 2009, President Barack Obama was sworn into office. Shortly thereafter, on January 21, 2009, Janet Napolitano was sworn in as the Secretary of Homeland Security. Following the transition, the Secretary conducted a review of existing programs and regulations to determine areas for reform or improved efficiency. Pursuant to this review, DHS has determined that improvements in U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) electronic employment verification system (E-Verify), along with other DHS programs, provide better tools for employers to reduce incidences of unauthorized employment and to better detect and deter the use of fraudulent identity documents by employees. As discussed below, DHS therefore has concluded that rescinding the August 2007 No-Match Rule and 2008 Supplemental Final Rule will better achieve DHS’s regulatory and enforcement goals.

Criminal Recidivism Rates Exposed

Recently a long awaited study was published on the recidivism rates of ex-criminals in the United States.  This study known in our industry as the “Blumstein Study” examined New York State Arrest records for more than 88,000 individuals who were first arrested in 1980.  Their recidivism rates were followed for 27 years through 2007.  The study which was published in the Journal of Criminology was conducted by Carnegie Mellon Professor Alfred Blumstein and Co-Author Kiminori Nakamura.

To summarize the report, ex-offenders do in fact have a high rate of recidivism within the first five years after arrest.  However, the study suggests that for offenders who “stay clean” for five years or more are much less likely to get arrested.  They suggest that after five years they are almost as likely to commit a crime as the rest of the general population of the United States.

The study is timely and important for many reasons.  First, the Obama administration has made it a point to break down those barriers for individuals who have committed crimes to gain employment.  Secondly, the EEOC has a mission to ensure a disparate class of ex-offenders is not created in the Untied States.  The problem is that the study has a lot of holes.

Noted employment screening industry experts and members of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS)  have commented on this study for months.   This week  Security Management Magazine published a great article on the topic.  One well respected expert concluded that because the study was limited to New York state it fails to find those criminals who may have committed crimes in other states.  Blumstein acknowledges this and expects that might lead to a 10 percent increase in the risk findings after that data is added.  The same expert also notes that because the study only looks at arrests and not convictions the true sample size is greatly reduced.

In my opinion these industry experts are spot on! Having examined the findings of the study I find even more shortcomings.  First, what are the parallels between major crimes and minor ones.  Meaning, how does the recidivism rate for someone convicted of Armed Robbery compare to someone convicted of Petty Theft? Secondly, the study is only able to track the rate of crimes re-committed that the individual has been caught committing.  Many times employees are simply fired and never prosecuted for breaking the law.  Lastly, in the pre-employment screening world, many times we are very concerned with “white collar” crimes.  There is no data on crimes committed at the Federal District Court level.  These crimes could include embezzlement, bank fraud, kidnapping etc..  These are only three examples of where I feel the study falls short.  I will reserve further comments because I feel an article brewing in my head and I don’t want to give it all away here!

In conclusion, the study is very important.  It would have had a huge impact on the recent El Vs. SEPTA case, had it been published a few years back.  It’s also important because it could pose a great defense to employers being sued under the Negligent Hiring doctrine.  What we do know is this; the current administration has made the “ex-offender in the workplace” issue a priority to solve.  The question is do employers want the government telling them which perspective employees are a risk enough to take?

Things You Should Know When Creating an RFP for Employment Screening Services: Part 3

In Parts 1 & 2, we discussed many very important steps in the RFP process.  We also highlighted why a company may chose to go to bid for their background screening services. Once again, this is a very daunting process; one that takes months to prepare for and months to complete.  This series is not a manual on how to write an RFP, the National Association for Professional Background Screeners has already done that. That can be found by Clicking Here!

Today, we will discuss the final important steps in your RFP process.

  • References. References give good insight and provide an added level of reinforcement to what the CRA have already disclosed regarding their products and services.  Bidders should be able to supply at least 3 references, with one being similar in size and scope to your own organization. You may also want them to provide some case studies of comparable clients. This will show you how the company plans on implementing its services into your organization.
  • Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS).There is an increasing trend of CRA’s partnering with Applicant Tracking System (ATS) providers. The reason this is becoming so attractive is that it provides a one stop resource for your organization. A recruiter can track the flow of their candidate through different stages of the screening program including the background check.  If your company currently uses an ATS, you’ll want to find out if the CRA can integrate with it and if there is an additional charge. If your company currently does not have an ATS, does the screening provider have any partnerships? (and with whom?)  There is a cost and time saving component in being able to integrate.
  • Service Level Agreements. Having this as part of your process will save you the headache down the road of having to go back and define what exactly needs to be done.   You don’t want a negative experience at the expense of your applicant and costing you a hire should a situation arise.  Important questions to ask yourself when creating a Service Level Agreement (SLA): How Will my customer service needs be met? What is the guaranteed ‘uptime’ of the vendors online portal?  Can they guarantee an ‘average’ turnaround time?  Basically, a good SLA should spell out in writing that the promises they are making are being kept.  In return, you guarantee you are giving the Background Screening Firm what they need to do their job!
  • Education and Compliance. Education and compliance go hand in hand. CRA’s should offer you assistance in being able to make informed hiring decisions.  Find out what educational tools they offer to keep their clients current on the latest background screening trends and laws.   What steps do they take to keep you in compliance with the ever changing laws?  Do they update you on court closings? Do they publish information for you to education yourself? For example, some companies will publish a blog, a newsletter and other informational sites.
  • Financial and Legal Information. A sticking point for companies going out to bid is asking for financial information.  This is something that should be avoided since most companies will not provide this information.   As mentioned throughout this piece there are other ways to determine how stable a company is other than asking for financial records.  Simply asking for this information may put you at risk of quality CRA’s failing to respond solely based on this question.

As the buyer of services, you need to be clear on setting your expectations to potential bidders and hold them to these deadlines.   If for whatever reason you can’t hold to these dates, communication needs to go out to the bidders with a revised deadline and again the expectation should be clear.  A realistic time line should also be created to give the bidders time to respond to all questions; usually a minimum of 2 weeks.  Assessing the CRA’s responsiveness and flexibility throughout the entire RFP process will provide key insights as to how they  will  perform  for  you  should  they  earn  your  business.  You’ll also want to look for consistency of their responses throughout the entire document.  Any inconsistencies should be examined further and followed up on if necessary for clarification.  Chose a provider that helps your company maintain its financial, security, and hiring goals.  In some ways this can be a difficult balance, finding out what you are getting in the RFP process is a great start.  If the RFP is the sales pitch, your willingness to follow the process is paramount to its success.   Holding your newly selected vendor to what was promised in the RFP can be difficult.  It’s important that you hold them to the service levels they promise and hold them accountable if they are unable to maintain it.  We understand that its cliché to say “Actions speak loader than words,” but unless you are willing to test a vendor and hold them to their commitments, the process is meaningless.  Anyone can promise anything! Be diligent! Failing to follow critical steps could put your company in peril.  Trying to cut costs could quite simply harm your organization at the expense of your employees and customers!  We hope these tips are helpful to you and your company.  If you have any questions on how to effectively create your RFP we are happy to help.  You may contact us at info@employeescreen.com


Written by John Sferry, Director of Business Development and Jason Morris, President and COO of EmployeeScreenIQ.

Founded in 1999, EmployeeScreenIQ is a Cleveland, Ohio-based employment screening company offering a variety of employment screening services to mid- and large-cap organizations throughout the world, including those in North and South America, Europe and East Asia. For more information visit http://www.employeescreen.com

Ex-Street Employee Faces 12 Felony Charges

A former city of Richmond employee who served time in jail before being hired could be heading back behind bars.

Julie Smitson was released from an Indiana prison Aug. 2, 2004, after serving six months for theft and receiving stolen property. She had admitted to stealing money from her employer, Guide Corporation, in Madison County, Ind.

She was hired Oct. 7, 2004, by the city of Richmond to work in the street department.

Smitson, who is still on probation for the Madison County conviction, is charged in a Wayne County court with 11 counts of theft and one count of official misconduct. All are Class D felonies.

If convicted, she will most likely return to prison next year.

The Wayne County Prosecutor’s office, in charging documents filed last week, alleges Smitson, 43, of 1401 S. Fourth St., while serving as office manager at the Richmond Street Department, charged more than $2,500 worth of garden supplies, tools and other items without authorization and diverted them for personal use.

Smitson was fired by the city June 12. She was arrested by Richmond police Thursday and taken to the Wayne County Jail, where she posted 10 percent of her $20,000 bond and was released.


Reality Background Checks on TV

ap_jenkins_fiore_090821_mnThis one has been all over the news this weekend.  Apparently, the producers at 51 Minds, the brains behind “Megan Wants a Millionaire” failed to properly vet contestant Ryan Alexander Jenkins.  According to the story, the production company does conduct background checks on the 17 wealthy bachelors, however it was obviously not done properly.  According to the Alberta Ministry of Justice, Jenkins was sentenced to 15 months of probation in 2001 for an assault charge in Calgary. So why is this news? Well its taken a few turns in the past few days.

As of Friday authorities were looking for Jenkins who was charged with the murder of his ex-wife, a former swimsuit model whose strangled and mutilated body was found Saturday stuffed in a suitcase in a trash bin in California.  Her body was so mutilated it had to be identified by her breast implants.

We humbly lend our series Employment Screening 101 to producers at 51 Minds.  Failing to properly screen employees (or game show contestants) can have grave outcomes.

Well now, his body has been found! According the the Associated Press:

Hunted Reality TV Contestant Found Dead in Canada

Reality show contestant Ryan Jenkins’ life ended in a way that could have been scripted for TV: as police investigated the murder suspect’s suicide at a secluded Canadian motel, word came Monday that a mysterious young woman had checked him in there.

Accused of the gruesome death of his ex-wife, a model whose body was so badly mutilated it had to be identified by her breast implants’ serial numbers, Jenkins evaded a massive international manhunt for days as he crossed from California into his native Canada.

The dramatic end came at an isolated motel at the edge of British Columbia’s mountainous interior, on the outskirts of Hope, a town known for its giant wooden carvings made with chainsaws and as the site of the first bloody Rambo movie.

On Sunday evening, police responded to a call from motel staff about a dead person, and then called investigators who were part of the manhunt for Jenkins, said Sgt. Duncan Pound of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police border integrity unit.

The manager of The Thunderbird Motel and his nephew said they found Jenkins hanging from the bar of a coat rack by a belt. They said a young woman had checked him in to the two-story inn surrounded by trees.


Facebook: Fact or Fiction? (Or Both?)

 The following story isn’t anything new to our readers.  We’ve stated time and time again that employers should not use social networking sites as a way to investigate job candidates because the information you find may not be truthful in nature.  How do you know that the Facebook profile filled with bad language and borderline inappropriate photos you are looking at is your candidate’s creation and not the invention of a former friend, spouse or co-worker with an ax to grind?  Denying someone a job based on information found on a social networking site could be asking for trouble. 

But what about offering someone a position with your company based on the favorable information found in their profile?  This section of the article peaked my interest:

“On the other hand, some candidates are doing a good job of presenting their professional side when posting online. Half of those who screened candidates via their social networking profiles said that they got a good feel for the person’s personality and fit within the organization. Other employers said that they found the profiles supported the candidates’ professional qualifications or that they discovered how creative the candidate was. Solid communication skills, evidence of well-roundedness, and other people’s good references (we assume this one came from LinkedIn) helped boost people’s credentials, too.”

With all of the press surrounding employers using sites like Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter to screen job applicants, it’s only a matter of time before applicants catch on and create fake profiles to make themselves look more qualified and professional than they really are (and maintain their real profiles under a pseudonym known only to the people they want to know).  And those references you see on LinkedIn – I could have a handful of glowing references on my profile by the end of the day just by sending a mass text to my old high school and college buddies.

Employers – Don’t believe the hype about how great social networking sites are to screen candidates.  Can you imagine having to explain to your boss: “Well, their facebook profile looked okay…” 

Click to read “Uncouth Facebook postings closing doors for job candidates”

Ontario Court: Mid-Employment Criminal Records Checks are a Violation of Privacy

An Ontario court has ruled that the city of Ottawa would be violating its firefighters’ right to privacy by conducting mid-employment criminal records checks.  The court ruled that the only circumstances under which the city would be allowed to run a criminal records search on a firefighter would be either when the the employee is hired or when he or she has been convicted of a crime while employed.

Question #1:  How does the court expect the city to know about the criminal conviction that took place while the firefighter is employed without running the mid-employment criminal records check?

Question #2:  Is the court naive enough to think that an employee will only commit a crime in their jurisdiction, thereby giving the city a heads up to conduct the search?

Question #3:  Does the court really think that an employee will volunteer crime or conviction information from another jurisdiction and put his or her job in jeopardy?

The court then introduced the question of whether the city should be allowed to run background checks on their firefighters prior to employment, again citing right to privacy.  Don’t even get me started!

Ontario court rejects mid-employment criminal record checks


Arbitrator found checks should only be made at hiring or if employee gets convicted, but appeal court says employees can refuse them any time

An Ontario court has denied the rights of the City of Ottawa to perform periodic criminal records checks on firefighters in the middle of their employment. It also questioned whether the city had the right to perform these kinds of checks at all.

In 2007, the city developed a policy to perform criminal record checks on its firefighters mid-employment. The firefighters’ union grieved the policy, saying the checks violated the firefighters’ privacy. Under the province’s Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA), criminal records are protected, as opposed to individual convictions, which are available to the public. The union argued the only circumstances in which a firefighter or any other employee should be ordered to consent to a criminal records check would be when she is hired or where there are reasonable grounds, such as a criminal conviction that could affect the nature of the employment.