This morning, the Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes (SOOO) released their publication "Suspect Treatment: State's lack of scrutiny allows unscreened sex offenders and unethical counselors to treat addicts".
Read the report here:
To the extent there is a major focus of the report, it is that California does not require AOD counselors to submit to criminal background checks. One implication of not requiring background checks is that Certifying Organizations do not know if a person applying for Registration or Certification was ever convicted of a sex crime unless the applicant self-discloses.
CAARR maintains that it is the State's responsibility to determine whether registrants and certificants should be background-checked. California law does not currently impose this requirement. It is also the State's responsibility --- with opportunity from the affected community (us) to propose solutions --- to determine what to do with information on prior convictions. For example, no state law should contain a blanket prohibition against a person becoming a counselor based on most prior convictions. But the State must establish the guidelines.
In 2010, CAARR co-sponsored SB 1203 (DeSaulnier) to empower the Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs to regulate the counselor certification process more appropriately than the 2005 regulations currently in place allow them to do. SB 1203 would have required background checks before being registered or certified. It would have allowed a person with a prior history of convictions, and who served his or her sentence, to become a counselor. It also would have prohibited "Megan's List" offenders from registering.
Read the bill here:
CAARR representatives were interviewed by John Hill from the SOOO as he was researching and preparing the "Suspect Treatment" report. We believe our input was useful to Mr. Hill and the information we provided on Counselor Certification, including the history of SB 1203, was appropriately reflected in the report. CAARR supports and has a history of advocating for every single one of the report's Recommendations in the final section of the report.
CAARR believes the SOOO report might help strengthen the field in ways we have historically supported. We welcome its publication, and we have responded proactively to several inquiries from reporters representing different California media outlets to assist them in understanding how to best plug remaining holes in the system.
CAARR member agencies are encouraged to call the CAARR office and speak with David Peters, Director of External Affairs, if you need additional information. We'll be developing a summary of the report this week, and all comments are welcomed.