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The Criminal Records Manual—Criminal Records in America

The Criminal Records Manual—Criminal Records in America: A Complete Guide to Legal, Ethical, and Public Policy Issues and Restrictions, Third Edition. By Larry Henry and Derek Hinton; published by Facts on Demand Press; available from ASIS, item #1815, 703/519-6200 (phone), (Web); 350 pages; $24 (ASIS members), $27 (nonmembers).

For years, I’ve had a number of public-records manuals sitting on top of my desk. In addition to having information on criminal-history record checks, these books include guidance for financial, business entity, motor vehicle, and other database-related searches. What’s refreshing about this book is that it is focused solely and thoroughly on criminal-history searches.

Co-authors Derek Hinton, an employment screening specialist, and Larry Henry, an employment lawyer, have written an employer-friendly book. They first explain why employment screening has become critical to business survival. They break down employer liability concerns surrounding the hiring process, especially as it relates to cases of employee-related workplace violence.

As someone intimately involved in the employment screening process, I appreciated the critical-thinking questions posed regarding the laws, rules, and precedents of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). For instance, does criminal-history information found during an employer record search actually carry the necessary weight for a candidate rejection under EEOC “job relatedness” definitions?

The book’s greatest omission is common to all such texts covering U.S. employment. It does not help employers consider how to do criminal-history checks on the millions of foreign citizens working in the United States. The Department of Homeland Security’s E-verify, an Internet-based system for confirming an applicant’s work status, run in partnership with the Social Security Administration (SSA), is not mentioned, nor are private vendors listed who can expedite criminal-record searches for companies whose job candidates are Mexican nationals.

Nevertheless, The Criminal Records Manual is a first-rate find for security professionals of all levels who have to conduct background searches.  

Reviewer: Richard Petraitis, CPP, is a project manager for Hana Security Services, Inc. He is a member of ASIS International.