If you are looking for information on how background checks in Alaska work, look no further. We’re going to cover everything you need to know about background checks in the state of Alaska.
The Background Check Laws in Alaska
Each state in the United States of America has created its own law regarding the provision and viewing rights of public records. Alaska has one of the most straightforward Public Records Act of them all. Having said that, it is far more specific than others.
According to the Alaska Public Records Act, the majority of records held by municipal or state agencies are available to be disclosed to the public. No matter the government branch, they must abide by this law. Moreover, requests can be made in a variety of forms — even in-person or using email.
The Alaska law grants the right to access public records even if you are not a citizen. The appeal process is also exceptionally clear which is a rarity in other states. You have 60 days to appeal the outcome of a public record check and you must receive a response within 10 days of your initial request.
However, a public agency can, according to 2 AAC 96.325 (d), request an extension. The extension notice statement must include a note explaining the reasons and ensuring the requester that they are not purposefully delaying the investigation.
Overall, the state’s public records act allows anyone to access the inner workings of the government and it appears that they oblige and take the law incredibly seriously.
As far as exemptions go, there are very few. The majority of the time, they will release public records upon request. Whether you want to access active investigation, medical, or juvenile records, or state savings, trust programs, or boat accident records, you’ll likely have no trouble accessing them.
The most interesting exemption is that the state does not regard the Alaska Railroad Corporation as a state agency. However, explicit exemptions apply to other situations, including the following (and others listed in AS 40.25.120):
- Records that are strictly confidential
- Information regarding digital signatures
- Confidential informant records
- Records that would disrupt active trials
- Records that define law-enforcement guidelines or practices
- Specific judicial records
It is worth noting that Alaska regards vital records as public however they are only available for access by individuals who are listed on the vital record. This record type includes marriage certificates, death certificates, divorce paperwork, and birth certificates.
There are no extravagant fees for copying public records, nor for accessing them (unless you’re conducting a criminal records search). You will be subject to fees that are no more than the particular agency’s standard duplication cost.
When conducting a search for Alaska Criminal Justice Information held by the Department of Public Safety, you should expect to pay $20 for a name search and $35 for a fingerprint search.
What Shows Up On a Background Check in Alaska?
Conducting a criminal background check in Alaska will return a person’s arrest, prosecution, and conviction details. Typically, they are accessed by employers who are looking to check on a new employee.
When the criminal records are pulled, they will show other, more specific information too. This includes the following:
- Personal data including the gender, name, and date of birth
- Physical descriptors
- Criminal convictions
- Probation and probation orders
- Convicted crimes
- Court orders
General information like employment history, education, and marital records will show up as well. However, employers tend to be more concerned with the criminal record side of things.
What Shows Up On Inmate Records in Alaska?
Regardless of the state, a list stating data relating to the prison population exists. All sorts of information can be found there which can be useful for individuals and employers to guard against identity fraud and misconceptions.
According to Alaska’s public records and background check laws, anybody can request inmate records from the Department of Corrections in Anchorage.
The records will pull up the following information:
- The inmate’s name
- The inmate’s date of birth
- Their charges
- Their sentence
- Their imprisonment term
- Their mugshot
- Any physical descriptions
What Shows Up On The Court Records in Alaska?
Court records in Alaska are set up for civil and criminal trials in all courts (district, superior, the court of appeals, and supreme). They can be asked under the Alaska Public Records Act via the Alaska Court System online database. However, you can also request them in an employer background check to save you the extra work.
You will find the following information on court records:
- Case files
- Court minutes
- Court orders
- Judgment documents
- Jury files
- Witness statements
Why Do Employers Run Background Checks in Alaska?
Usually, employers will run background checks before they hire a new individual. There are a variety of reasons for this which we’ll discuss below:
#1 To Ensure Employee Competency
A background check provides a reliable method for checking that the claims made on resumes and during interviews are true. Finding a job isn’t easy, and jobseekers sometimes feel the need to over-embellish their educational certifications or overstate their job histories.
#2 To Ensure Workplace Safety
Employers have a duty of care to their employees, vendors, site visitors, and customers. So, anyone that they bring onto their team needs to ensure that they conduct in an appropriate manner and do not put other individuals at risk.
Background checks ensure that employers can back-up their safe hiring policy by ensuring others that they conducted a reasonable investigation.
#3 To Prevent Workplace Theft
The majority of thefts from businesses happen from the inside. In other words, the person doing the crime knows the space like the back of their hand.
Background checks can allow employers to make well-informed hiring decisions to ensure they are doing their utmost to reduce theft risk.
#4 To Ensure Integrity and Honesty
Alongside over-embellishing resumes, candidates do, at times, make misstatements or fabricate the truth. Generally speaking, this causes employers to question the potential employee’s integrity. Ultimately, this leads to disqualification.
Employers can save themselves a lot of hassle by simply conducting a background check prior to hiring the individual.
#5 When Employing in The Caregiving Sector
Whether an individual is set to work with the elderly, infants, or those with disabilities, in-depth background checks are needed to ensure the candidate won’t cause harm.
In this case, employers will usually insist on receiving a multitude of information from the background checks. This includes the following:
- Criminal record check
- Education checks
- Driving record checks
- Credit checks
- General background checks
How Far Back Do Background Checks Go In Alaska?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) across the United States of America does not provide a maximum limit as to how many years employers can go back when conducting a background check. Technically, employers are allowed to go back to court operations that happened over 25 years ago.
However, it isn’t quite as simple as that since states have their own laws regarding this matter.
Alaska has a different approach to this limit than other states. In this state, background checks are legally allowed to stretch as far back as ten years. The maximum limit (i.e. the ten years) is only to be reached in certain circumstances, usually when a candidate is aiming to become a direct care provider.
In this case, the individual is subject to 10 years’ worth of states both inside and outside of Alaska. This means that if the candidate has lived outside of the state at any point over the last 10 years, they will have their records from the other states pulled too.
Usually, the following records are accessed when assessing potential direct caregivers:
- ASPIN — This is the Alaska Public Safety Information Network. It contains the bulk of the state’s criminal justice data and is sometimes referred to as an Interested Person Report.
- Alaska Court System, Alaska Court View, and Alaska’s Name Index — This offers information regarding both civil and criminal cases. The data gained here is usually used to figure out case disposition in the Alaska Public Safety Information Network.
- JOMIS — This is the Juvenile Offender Management Information System which contains the records relating to juvenile offenses for the state. The majority is controlled by Alaska’s Division of Juvenile Justice.
- The Centralized Registry — This is often referred to as the “Employee Misconduct Registry” and contains information on individuals who have been assessed by investigators for neglect, abuse, or exploitation. It also ensures that information regarding those who have been found guilty of those acts is available.
- CNA Registry — This is the Certified Nurses Aid Registry which lists all people who are qualified to administer/perform particular duties.
- NSOR — This is the National Sex Offender Registry. This is available across the nation and contains information pertaining to sex offenses in all states, Guam, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
- OIG — This is a database called the Office of Inspector General. It offers information on people who are excluded from taking part in federal healthcare programs, Medicaid, and Medicare.
Employers can also request that other departments’ records be inspected if they deem it to be appropriate for the role.
How Long Does a Background Check in Alaska Take?
According to the Alaska Public Records Act, agencies must deliver records within ten days. Having said that, agencies are legally able to request a deadline extension. They must have a valid reason for this, however, and it must not be for the purpose of delaying the investigation.
It is worth noting that exhaustive name-based state criminal background checks may take a bit longer. The average waiting time for this kind of investigation is approximately three weeks. Although, this time will vary on a case-by-case basis.
Fingerprint-based state criminal background checks will take approximately two to three weeks. It is recommended by Alaska’s judicial system to conduct a fingerprint-based search if you want the most accurate results. Sometimes, names aren’t enough to provide enough information to conduct a valid search.
How Long Does a Background Check For a Gun Take in Alaska?
The laws surrounding background checks for guns are a little different in Alaska.
Federal law states that federally-licensed firearms dealers must perform a background check prior to selling the firearm.
However, under the same law, states are allowed to act as a “point of contact”. This means that states can run their own checks when supplying firearms or tick the option to allow the background checks for guns to be carried out by the FBI only. In the latter scenario, the FBI will use the NCIS service (the National Instant Criminal Background Check System).
Alaska decided against being a point of contact state for the NICS. The state has zero laws stating firearms dealers have to conduct a background check before the sale of a weapon. Because of this, firearms dealers trading in Alaska must conduct the necessary background check required by federal law through the FBI only.
However, if a potential purchaser of a firearm produces a state permit that allows them to possess a firearm or owns firearms that meet the necessary requirements, federal law doesn’t require a background check. Therefore, individuals who carry concealed weapon permits that have the NICS-Exempt stamp in place, do not have to go through the FBI check in Alaska.
Furthermore, the state of Alaska does not need private firearm sellers (i.e. those who are federally-licensed firearms dealers) to conduct a background check when they sell or exchange a gun.
Because of the extremely liberal gun laws (and next to no requirements) stated above, the time it takes to conduct a background check is very short. However, it does vary since the FBI has to conduct them.
How Do You Get a Background Check In Alaska?
The Department of Health and Social Services (otherwise known as the DHSS) in Alaska conducts a centralized background check support for all programs providing health, safety, and welfare to others. Its Background Check Program (otherwise known as the BCP) performs fingerprint-based criminal history checks.
This program is not for those who are looking for general background checks. Instead, they are reserved for those who need to obtain a background check for one an individual who will serve programs provided by the Department of Health and Social Services itself.
For employees to obtain a background check of potential individuals who are not going to be serving the Department of Health and Social Services, the request will have to be passed through the Alaska Department of Public Safety. This Department deals specifically with the Criminal Records and Identification Bureau to provide those who need a background check with relevant information.
There are a variety of services online that allow you to order background checks after you input the following information:
- The full name of the individual
- The gender
- The state
- The date of birth
- The information you want to obtain
- Your contact information
Since there aren’t really any huge restrictions on what information can be reported in these background checks, you (as the employer) can request criminal checks at any stage. There isn’t a Ban the Box legislation in place either so the process is relatively easy. You can use a plethora of systems like Background Check too, so it’s pretty limitless.
Employers in Alaska have to meet the following requirements before they can run official background checks:
- Employers must receive written consent from the candidate before a criminal background check is conducted.
- Employers have to inform the candidate if they have been denied based on the information found in their background check.
- Employers must hand the applicant a copy of the background check that clearly states why the applicant was not hired.
- Employers must state clearly to the applicant whether the final hiring decision was made based on the information provided in the background check.
What Is A Ban the Box Legislation?
Ban the Box is a campaign that allowed previous convicts a chance to compete for jobs that were previously non-attainable due to the fact that they had to check “yes” in the box marked “do you have any previous convictions”.
However, since Alaska does not have the Ban the Box legislation in place, employers can ask for criminal information right from the get-go. This does help employers streamline the process but it can be detrimental to applicants if the employer decides not to conduct a full background check using the Alaska Department of Public Safety.
Should You Use a Third-Party Background Check Service?
You can conduct an extensive background check without the use of third-party services. However, hiring an additional source might give you access to information from private agencies.
Are There Free Background Checks In Alaska?
The Alaska Department of Public Safety is the body that performs all official checks, regardless of any third-parties you decide to go through.
Currently, there are no free background check options offered by the official board. Instead, there are two separate fees depending on the type of background check you are conducting.
If you want to move forward with a name search, you will have to pay $20 per name. But if you plan to conduct a finger-print based search, you will have to pay $35. The Alaska Department of Public Safety states that you should go for a fingerprint-based search as much as practicable. This is because name-based searches typically miss some bits of criminal history.
You will also have to spend $5 per copy which can then be supplied to the applicant. It is important to note that all individuals have a right to look at or buy a copy of the entire record pulled for their background check.
What Should You Do If The Information On Your Criminal Background Check Is Incorrect?
Generally speaking, you cannot expunge (i.e. remove or seal) your criminal record if it is accurate. However, you can request that your criminal record be sealed if it is based on a false accusation or a mistaken identity.
To request this, you have to fill out a form known as the Request to Seal Criminal Justice Information. The form asks for various information that you’ll be able to easily acquire if you don’t know it already.
If your request is approved by the Department, there may still be future times that allow the information to be shared. These situations could be one of the following:
- For record management
- For yourself to review
- For settling a court order
- For settling a statute
- For statistic or research purposes
- For employment in the criminal justice sector
- For preventing indefinite harm to another person
If your criminal record information has mistakes that are not due to identity issues or false accusations, you can still have it corrected. Again, you will have to submit a fairly extensive form to the Department called Request to Correct Criminal Justice Information.