These days, the approach of summer-camp season means something different than it used to: a run on criminal-background checks from the state.
“There may be a longer wait time” for records to be provided in response to camp directors checking on prospective counselors and other staff, says Terrel Harris, spokesman for the state Executive Office of Public Safety and Security.
And no wonder. The number of requests for criminal records in Massachusetts has more than doubled in the past 10 years, according to statistics provided in response to a public-records request, at the same time that cases have come to light of sexual abuse of minors by priests, coaches, and other adults who work with children.
And at this time of year, when summer camps are about to open, the department reports so many requests that there are delays.
Last year, in a state with a population of 6.5 million, nearly 1.5 million criminal records were requested, according to the Massachusetts Department of Criminal Justice Information Services. That’s up from 739,129 in 2000.
Responses to Criminal Offender Record Information, or CORI, reports take an average of three to five days, except during camp season and at the start of each new school year, Harris says.
FRANCESCA BACARDI AND JOHN O’DONNELL ARE JOURNALISM STUDENTS AT BC