The huge Internet news today is that criminalsearches.com is up and running (Beta). It is FREE and enables quick and easy criminal record searches.
Stuff like this is very appealing for people who want to look up their co-worker, neighbor, or dating partner.
Before you get too excited about accessing public records, here is my quick review of the site:
- Not all criminal databases are used; it is NOT all-encompassing. It doesn’t seem to go back very far, either.
- A lot of people whom I know have been convicted of crimes simply do not come up in the search results.
- If you type “Larry” but the person’s name is “Lawrence”, you are out of luck.
- Most links send you to paid sites where you can get full background checks.
- The site looks lite it was slapped together in a couple of weeks.
- There is nothing NEW on this site. You can simply go to your County’s Clerk of Courts website to find the same thing. However, criminalsearches.com combines many Clerks of Court databases.
And now, here are my thoughts on the ethics of this site:
As soon as word gets around, everyone is going to be looking up each other. I wonder how many relationships will be damaged with the heavy marketing of this site, which is so free and easy? [Please note: every state has court records and prison records available, but they are not marketed well, so the general public doesn't really know about them.]
There is a sex offender page, so you can find sex offenders that live in your zip code or near your home. I wonder how much harassment (or harm) these people are going to be dealing with now.
People will feel that the site is valid, reliable, and an authority about if someone is a criminal or not, but they would be mistaken. How many people have the same name? It’s like online polls- a fun little thing to do and waste time, but nothing to base decisions on or take seriously.
We live in a myspace, youtube, facebook, ebay, google searches, and craigslist world. Nothing is private and nothing is sacred. It USED to be that if you had a spotty history, you can at least start a “new life” at a new job or if you move to a different town you can get a second chance. Now, your history follows you around wherever you go. And heaven help you if your name is “John Smith”.
Yeah, I know, my old buddy Mike would say, “It’s all public record”. But what’s going to be happening is that people will run your name through, and make a pre-judgment against you (including job interviews).
Females who have committed crimes are in danger if some pervert wants to visit or stalk a troubled woman lives near him.
I can list so many things about how the negatives outweigh the positives, but I’m not asking for a call to action. It is what it is. My only warning to you is that if you use it, realize that the database is not accurate, it is easy to misidentify people with similar or the same names, if you type any part of the name wrong you get no results, and that you should judge a person based on what you see and hear, not what some automated website says.