Do You Have a Sex Offender Volunteering for You?
Posted Thursday, April 23rd, 2015 by Verified Volunteers Staff
Through my daily conversations with Executive Directors, Volunteer Managers and others working at volunteer programs of all shapes and sizes, I have identified the Sex Offender search as one common area of confusion when it comes to volunteer screening. I get asked all the time about the difference between the National Sex Offender Public Website search (also known as NSOPW or Dru Sjodin) and sex offender searches conducted through nationwide databases. My answer each and every time I get asked the question? The only way to be sure that you do not have a registered sex offender volunteering for you is to search NSOPW.
I go on to give a detailed explanation as to why searching NSOPW is a must. Unfortunately, I can’t reach all of you on the phone and through webinars, so I thought I’d give you the short version in this blog post.
First of all, what is NSOPW?
It is the only comprehensive DOJ sex offender search in the country. NSOPW centralizes access to each individual state sex offender registry. When you use NSOPW, you are able to tap into the most up-to-date sex offender information from all fifty states all at the same time – rather than conducting time consuming individual state searches. The NSOPW is truly the gold standard when it comes to your sex offender search.
To paraphrase their website, NSOPW is the only U.S. government website that links public state, territorial, and tribal sex offender registries in one national search site. The website provides visitors with information about sexual abuse and how to protect themselves and loved ones from potential victimization.
I am using a single state database to conduct my sex offender search. Am I getting the data I need?
No. You are getting accurate sex offender information, but only from one of the fifty states in the country. Who’s to say a volunteer hasn’t committed a sexual offense in a different state?
I am using a nationwide database to conduct my sex offender search. Am I getting the data I need?
No. A sex offender search should never be part of the Nationwide search or National Criminal Record File.
First, if you are getting your information on sex offenders from a nationwide database, you could be getting information that is stale by more than 30 days. Why take that risk?
On top of that, once you review the information returned on sex offenders from the nationwide database, in order to be confident in the accuracy of that information, you’ll have to go back to the primary source in order to validate it. And what’s the primary source? The NSOPW!
So why do I need a service provider to search NSOPW for me? Why can’t I do it myself?
You can. The problem is that it will likely return lots of results with offenders who all share the same name you’ve searched. You will have to take the time to scrub these results to identify those that are a legitimate match with the individual you are searching. Imagine walking through this process for 100 or even 1,000 volunteers? This can take several days of time each month. And when you are not used to conducting this type of investigation, it can take longer than it needs to. Leaving the tedious work to a trained provider can make it easier…and make the results returned more reliable. Plus, most volunteer managers would prefer this information to be bundled into a single report with other criminal searches. One reliable document with all the information they need to make an informed decision about their prospective volunteers. Doesn’t that sound easier?
That’s the short version.
To talk individually about your sex offender search – and volunteer screening in general – contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.