Many public and private employers require background checks for employment purposes. State law mandates schools, day care centers, health care facilities, and others to require such checks as part of the hiring process. Some individuals are also required to have a background check to obtain professional licensure. This seems to be a great procedural safeguard. However, a new law in Ohio creates a loophole in the reporting process.
Under the new law, background checks processed by the Ohio Attorney General will not include arrests or charges that did not result in convictions. This means that if a person committed a crime, but was not found guilty, that crime cannot be reported on the background check.
The rationale behind the law is simple. Unemployment is rampant and so the state wants to make it easier for anyone who was not found guilty to gain employment. Additionally, the State reasons that innocent people shouldn’t be held against a bias that they don’t rightfully deserve. The trouble is that there are many guilty people who are arrested, but not convicted, because of some technicality.
A non-conviction after arrest is not necessarily an indication of a person’s innocence, and therefore, an indication of the person’s ability to be amongst others in society. There are many reasons that a person is not convicted after being arrested. Among them are an unlawful arrest, an unlawful seizure, ineffective prosecution, and the list goes on. These are all constitutional reasons that a person is not convicted and none of them have to do with the person’s guilt.
Under the new law, processing cases where someone was arrested, but not convicted, has to be done by hand. This creates a huge backlog for the Attorney General’s office and slows down the ability to hire. So what has the new law accomplished?