New CORI Law Makes It Better for You
The new CORI law1 takes effect in two stages; first stage by November 4, 2010, second stage by May 4, 2012.
In November, 2010, the Criminal History Systems Board (CHSB), the agency responsible for the collection, storage, dissemination and use of CORI, was renamed the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services. Its mission will remain the same. Other changes instituted in the first stage include a ban on questions about your criminal history on the initial written job application, unless the employer is required by state or federal law to investigate a job applicant’s criminal history. This section is popularly known as the “bans the box" provision. Also under the new law, certified volunteer agencies will be able to get CORI for paid staff, vendors, and contractors as well as volunteers.
A major new change as of May, 2012, is that CORI will be available on the internet, for a fee. Employers and landlords who have standard access to CORI will be allowed to see the following: all convictions for murder, manslaughter, and sex offenses; any felony convictions that happened within the last 10 years or for which the person was incarcerated; any misdemeanor convictions that happened within the last 5 years or for which the person was incarcerated; any open criminal cases will appear including those continued without a finding (CWOF). Please note- if any conviction appears under the above rules, then all prior convictions will appear, regardless of when the conviction happened.
Employers that require additional access to CORI because of a statutory, regulatory or accreditation requirement will have that access. This category includes schools, camps, banks, security guard companies, hospitals, day care centers, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, councils on aging, public housing authorities, security systems installers, amusement device operators, and insurance companies.
Sealed records will never appear on a CORI, and the CORI will not show that a sealed record exists. Beginning May, 2012, individuals may request that their criminal records be sealed according to the following schedule: misdemeanor- 5 years after the conviction or any period of incarceration, whichever is later; felony- 10 years after the conviction or any period of incarceration, whichever is later; sex offense- 15 years after the conviction or any period of incarceration, or after the obligation to register as a sex offender ceases, whichever is later. Sex offenders classified as Level 2 or Level 3 will not be eligible to have their convictions sealed. To be eligible for sealing, an applicant must not have a conviction for any crime during the above waiting periods.
Any member of the general public can get CORI information for a specific individual. Upon written request, they can access information about a particular conviction for a limited time: felony- convictions punishable by 5 years of imprisonment or any felony conviction, until 2 years after release from custody; misdemeanor- until 1 year after release from custody; any conviction resulting in a prison sentence, throughout the period of incarceration, probation or parole.
You may obtain a copy of your entire CORI report. You may also request, free-of-charge every 90 days, a self-audit that identifies all organizations and individuals that have requested your CORI report. This self-audit will not include any requests for your CORI made by law enforcement or criminal justice agencies. More frequent audits may be requested for a fee. Interested in getting a copy of your CORI, or getting your criminal records sealed? You must contact the Massachusetts Office of the Commissioner of Probation (OCP) at 617-727-5300. Additional information is also available at the OCP web site at: http://www.mass.gov/courts/probation/forms.html.
1M.G.L. c. 256, “An Act Reforming the Administrative Procedures Relative to Criminal Offender Record Information and Pre- and Post-Trial Supervised Released." (See Senate, No. 2583) Approved by the Governor, August 6, 2010.