Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Changes to CCAP Coming Soon?

For years court records pertaining to adult criminal matters have been available on the internet on the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access website (also commonly referred to as "CCAP") and while the website has plenty of good value and use, it also has a way of damaging future job and housing prospects, often times unlawfully. Though Wisconsin is one of the few states that has specific protection against arrest and conviction record discrimination in employment, that still does not prevent employers from not hiring otherwise qualified applicants or landlords from renting to harmless tenants.

In an administrative meeting of the Wisconsin Supreme Court this past Monday, Justice David Prosser suggested the court needs to change the online availability of records in "some cases." From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article on the story:
"Some people are actually innocent, and they shouldn't be disadvantaged forever" by online records, Prosser said.

The court is not unified on the issue, and Justice Patience Roggensack said she was worried making the records less accessible would conflict with the state's open records law.

"I have some real concerns with trying to play hide the ball with Wisconsin's records," Roggensack said.

She also said if the court doesn't make records fully available online, private vendors will gather the information on their own and sell it to the public.
As a practicing attorney who focuses on employment law and who utilizes CCAP for non-discriminatory purposes such as looking up case statuses, I tend to agree that something has to be done to undo and prevent a lot of unintended harm that comes from CCAP. Employers are not (often times) dumb enough to let an applicant or employee know that are not being hired or terminated because of their arrest and/or conviction record but I often receive phone calls from people who can't think of any other reason for their adverse employment action. If CCAP is modified to some degree, I hope there is still a way for lawyers and the like to have access to records for the good that CCAP serves. I would be willing to pay a price for access if it meant more deserving people being able to get the jobs they deserve and need.

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