Audit Reveals Huge Gaps in State of Texas Criminal Record System
October 6, 2011
Everything is big in Texas . . . Including a gaping wide hole in the state’s Department of Public Safety Computerized Criminal History System (DPS). A 2009 state audit revealed that state prosecutors and courts failed to report arrest records on 1 in 4 arrests. That might be funny if prospective foster parents, teacher applicants, members of law enforcement, day-care employees, doctors, nurses and real estate agents weren’t mandated to use the system for background checks let alone a host of private sector employers who do so voluntarily.
And here’s where it gets really scary. The audit also looked at 21,351 offenders in jail, in prison or on probation who were convicted of crimes and began serving sentences in November of 2009. There were court records in the system for 1,634 of those offenders.
We’ve often warned about the dangers of relying on state database systems to conduct criminal background checks and this gives you a snapshot as to why. Is the state’s criminal database cheap? It sure is, but now maybe you can see why you get what you pay for.
And while, the statewide search might be a good screening tool as a complement to a thorough criminal background check, the gold standard is still to conduct a county criminal record search in each county where an individual has resided.