Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
July 30, 2009
I first learned of this famous latin phrase as a criminology major at Kent State University. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? is a Latin phrase from the Roman poet Juvenal, which literally translates to “Who will guard the guards themselves?”, and is variously translated in colloquial English as “Who watches the watchmen?” I felt it appropriate when reading the following article about Senate Bill 447 in California.
Governor to consider bill barring ex-cons from doing background checks
Lori Consalvo, Staff Writer
Created: 07/29/2009 07:57:44 PM PDT
Now that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed the state budget, he has to decide whether to sign more than 100 new bills.
Among the measures that will soon be placed on his desk is Senate Bill 447, which would ensure that people with a criminal past can’t conduct background checks for prospective employees and members at agencies, such as the Boy Scouts.
Lawmakers backing the bill expect it to hit Schwarzenegger’s desk within the next week.
Once the bill is sent to the governor, he would have 12 days to sign it.
The Assembly passed the bill on July 13, after it received Senate approval in May.
“It’s a great, great idea,” said Susan Warren, co-founder and co-director of Project Think in Claremont. “I don’t think we can be too careful checking the backgrounds of individuals who are going to be working with children, or checking those supervising children, who are our most important resources for the future.”
Project Think is an active-learning summer program for preschoolers to eighth-graders. Warren has been a teacher and principal for 22 years and is a professor and director of masters programs and education at Azusa Pacific University.
There are 36,000 youth organizations in California that require criminal background checks for prospective members. But the person conducting the background checks can also review his or her own past.
“We can’t take that chance because that could ruin a child’s life,” Warren said.
Bill sponsor Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, said the loophole could lead to an ex-con supervising an organization’s background check process unbeknownst to other agency members.
The bill would require the state Department of Justice to review the criminal past of potential record custodians to confirm whether they are suited for the position.
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