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Illinois Lawmakers Consider National Rap Back System


When a new employee is fingerprinted for a job in Illinois, the employer receives a snapshot of their criminal record, and they receive notifications for any future run-ins with the law in the state. But lawmakers are considering a proposal that would also allow employers to be notified of convictions that happen across state lines.

The Illinois State Police are proponents of the idea. They say this will allow them to keep real-time records for employers in the state.

“If  someone is fingerprinted in Illinois for a job as a school teacher and they are convicted of aggravated battery after the fact in another state, that employer is never notified," said Master Sergeant Joe Hutchins, with the Illinois State Police. "It’s a loophole unfortunately. Until they get fingerprinted again in Illinois, we would never know.”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Illinois is opposed to the measure because, as a part of the Rap Back System, the fingerprints taken go into a massive Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) database. ACLU said the FBI is able to retain the fingerprints they receive indefinitely and they are not restricted in using the prints solely for the Rap Back System. Ben Ruddell, with ACLU, said they also have other issues with the proposal.  

“In some states, employers are receiving notice of mere arrests rather than a conviction, which seems rather invasive and unnecessary,” said Ruddell. 

Ruddell said he spoke with the Illinois State Police and they don’t plan to notify for arrests, but it’s still a concern. The legislation unanimously passed out of the Senate earlier this month.

Jaclyn has an MA in Journalism from DePaul University and a BS in History form Monmouth College. Prior to reporting, Jaclyn was a social science teacher and department chair at Greenfield High School. Previously, Jaclyn reported for WICS Newschannel 20 where she covered a variety of assignments including courts, politics, and breaking news. She also reported at Siouxland News in Sioux City Iowa, the shared CBS/Fox television newsroom. Her internships included WGN and Comcast SportsNet in Chicago.