SD25 - Interim Report on the Impact of Barrier Crime Laws on Social Service and Health Care Employers

Executive Summary:

Senate Joint Resolution 106 of the 2006 General Assembly Session directed the Joint Commission on Health Care (JCHC) to conduct a two-year study of “the impact of barrier crimes laws on social services and health care employers, prospective employees, consumers, residents, patients, and clients."

Barrier crime laws prohibit persons convicted of certain statutorily-defined crimes from obtaining employment with certain employers, primarily those employers specializing in the care of vulnerable populations, such as children, the elderly, and those with mental disabilities. Preliminary research indicates that as workplace violence and crime rates grew, as well as negligent hiring lawsuits, the list of barrier crime laws and mandatory background checks also grew. Additionally, preliminary interviews reveal that persons with a history of mental illness and/or substance abuse problems often have criminal backgrounds related to their illness, and often have difficulty obtaining employment, making rehabilitation more difficult. Furthermore, some employers report on having difficulty maintaining a qualified workforce.

Over the next year, JCHC staff will examine applicable federal barrier crime laws and regulations and determine if there are any barrier crime law exceptions that are barred by federal law. A 50-state statutory analysis will be conducted to compare Virginia’s barrier crime laws to those in other states. Additionally, JCHC staff will analyze the effectiveness of barrier crime laws in protecting consumers, residents, patients, and clients; as well as gather information on employment discrimination based on an individual’s criminal record. Furthermore, staff will conduct interviews and receive additional comments from affected entities and individuals to examine the difficulty experienced by prospective employees in finding jobs and prospective employers in finding qualified applicants. Finally, the issue of negligent hiring and its impact on barrier crime legislation will be examined.

This interim report includes a preface, executive summary, and presentation of background information. The final report, which will include options presented for JCHC consideration, will be completed prior to the 2008 General Assembly Session.