On Sunday, Aug. 20, the San Antonio Express published CDIA’s letter to the editor, Background checks keep renters safe. CDIA’s letter was in response to Peggy O’Hare’s Aug. 5 article, “Tenants’ criminal histories pose potential legal snag for housing providers”. The Aug. 5 article over-simplified a complicated issue and CDIA needed to correct the record. First, criminal background checks are a critical tool to predict future crimes, like burglary, arson, and sexual assault. Second, the article perpetuates the myth of a magical redemption period after a certain period, like seven years. There is no magic number of years that lessens the occurrence of recidivism. No matter how much research is undertaken, the search for a single bright redemption line is likely doomed to fail.
Eric J. Ellman is Senior Vice President for Public Policy and Legal Affairs at the Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA) in Washington, DC. He also served for eight months as Interim President and CEO of the Association. More