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Investigating the new guy

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Sec'yBob View Drop Down
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    Posted: September/18/2015 at 8:54am
This has come up several times  and I get several different vews each time.
 
What has your Lodge  done when a petitioner gives you his paperwork and he says he has an arrest record.
 
Be it either felony or misdemeanor, does your committee automatically Thumbs Down.  Or do you weigh the offense and then proceed from there.
 
Just interested  in other views and opinions
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Adept? Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/18/2015 at 9:10am
It depends on the severity of the offense, the time elapsed since...and whether or not he comes well recommended by a brother, or multiple brothers from our lodge and/or jurisdiction.

Personally...I like to see at least 5 solid years with no negative police interactions. (Not counting minor traffic violations) Again...it depends on the severity of the offense. I work full time for the state dept. of corrections, and part time for my local county sheriff dept. So I can basically look up anything that someone might lie about.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote YES Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/18/2015 at 9:41am
Originally posted by Adept? Adept? wrote:

...I work full time for the state dept. of corrections, and part time for my local county sheriff dept. So I can basically look up anything that someone might lie about.


By using your position to access confidential criminal history record information for an unauthorized purpose you are violating the law.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Adept? Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/18/2015 at 11:20am
My brother... trust me when I tell you that I am quite aware of the confidentiality policy that I am bound by.   if they have been incarcerated in a state facility or my local County facility it is not confidential information for me as I am an employee of both.   as long as I don't reveal that information to any unauthorized person... I'm not violating any laws or policies.   Arrest records are public anyway, as a matter of fact my local County Sheriff Department posts arrest records on their Facebook page.
The local paper publishes court records including the persons name, town they live in, their charges, and the sentence and fines imposed.

FYI: There has never been a need for me to look up anything for the lodge, and I have never done so. However, if I ever felt it necessary to do so... I could.

Please keep any future posts on the topic of the thread. If you wish to discuss this matter with me further please do so via private message.

Edited by Adept? - September/18/2015 at 11:44am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Anthony660 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/18/2015 at 5:23pm
From the California Masonic Code-

ยง804.210. CRIMINAL RECORD.

No person shall hold or be eligible for membership in any Lodge in this Jurisdiction who has

pleaded guilty or nolo contendere to, or has been convicted of, a crime that is morally wrong in

itself unless, for the reason that he did not commit the offense, he either has been pardoned or

had his judgment of conviction vacated.

In addition we also conduct criminal background checks. I have been on many investigating committees and I will reject any one with a criminal record.
Why would you want a convict as a Brother Mason?


Edited by Anthony660 - September/18/2015 at 5:24pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote edwmax Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/18/2015 at 8:08pm
Originally posted by Adept? Adept? wrote:

My brother... trust me when I tell you that I am quite aware of the confidentiality policy that I am bound by.   if they have been incarcerated in a state facility or my local County facility it is not confidential information for me as I am an employee of both.   as long as I don't reveal that information to any unauthorized person... I'm not violating any laws or policies.   Arrest records are public anyway, as a matter of fact my local County Sheriff Department posts arrest records on their Facebook page.
The local paper publishes court records including the persons name, town they live in, their charges, and the sentence and fines imposed.

FYI: There has never been a need for me to look up anything for the lodge, and I have never done so. However, if I ever felt it necessary to do so... I could.

Please keep any future posts on the topic of the thread. If you wish to discuss this matter with me further please do so via private message.


There is a line between "personal use"  and "official use" (on going investigation) of the NCIC system (FBI records).  The records on this system are 'private' and for 'official use' only; even if the same records are publicly available from other sources (Court House; Sheriff or Police Dept).    In Georgia there is a hefty fine (about $50k ??) for any Officer who violates this.  I know, I've been badged for 20 years.


As for the thread topic   ... The first step would be to talk to the petition signers. Find out what they know and why they signed and sponsoring the petition.  The petitioner admits he has been arrested and has a record.    So this could be researched from the newspapers; the Court House records; or maybe the State Prison system, if on-line).     ... But the question now is "How is this person now viewed by the community?   What has he done to re-establish his 'good name'?   How will his membership effect the Lodge and the Lodge's standing in the community?  

...As stated above, why would Mason want a Convict for a Brother?   So to elect such a petitioner, his standing in the community and benefit to the Lodge should be 'extraordinary'!


Edited by edwmax - September/18/2015 at 8:20pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Adept? Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/18/2015 at 8:41pm
I wasn't referring to an NCIC check Ed. I don't even have access to that.

Again...if anyone wishes to discuss this further, feel free to private message me.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote edwmax Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/18/2015 at 11:09pm
Originally posted by Sec'yBob Sec'yBob wrote:

This has come up several times  and I get several different vews each time.
 
What has your Lodge  done when a petitioner gives you his paperwork and he says he has an arrest record.
 
Be it either felony or misdemeanor, does your committee automatically Thumbs Down.  Or do you weigh the offense and then proceed from there.
 
Just interested  in other views and opinions


Actually   'arrest record' doesn't count, unless it is current and have not gone to trial.      It's 'convictions' for offenses the investigating committee should be looking at.


Edited by edwmax - September/18/2015 at 11:11pm
"He who would assume to govern others must first learn to govern himself."





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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Pscyclepath Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/19/2015 at 5:07am
Our lodge conducts a criminal background check for all petitioners...   If something shows up, that information is provided to the investigating committee and the Master so that they can consider it in their investigation and decision.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote edwmax Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/19/2015 at 7:07am
There are reference above to criminal records or background checks.  In many locations some sort of 'back ground  checks are available to the public from your local Sheriff or police dept.   But you need to understand what info would be reported and what WILL NOT be reported.   You may be surprised to what info not being reported to you.  

There are 'internet' background checks for a fee.  These data bases are made up from various public records and the better data bases were originally for Private Investigators and Insurance Companies.  The problem with these reports are records for persons with similar names become confused/combined with the individual you are researching.  Thus making the report near useless if you can not distinguish & separate these other individuals out.   The disclaimers for these reports, you have to sign are for a reason.

Background checks are at times might be necessary.  However, I am against mandatory background checks by a GL or Lodge.    The petition signers and the members of a Lodge should already know a petitioner will enough that such a check would be un-necessary.   Therefore, if a Lodge deems a background check is needed, then there is already a problem!    ... Remember a Petitioner is asking a Lodge for a favor to join its membership. It is up to him to prove he is worthy!  

Many Lodges do have members who are Law Enforcement Officers.  Please DO NOT ask these Masons to do a criminal background for the Lodge.  For them to do so would be 'illegal' if the check is not part of an 'official' criminal investigation in the performance of their normal duties; and may put their careers at risk.   The only way to do a background check is with the proper paper work; signed authorization by the Petitioner; and in most LE agencies for public request be approved by the Administration.


NOTE:   this post is for general information and not aimed at or a rebuttal to any specific post above.



Edited by edwmax - September/19/2015 at 7:17am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote WBScott Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/19/2015 at 8:30am
In Missouri, having been convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor involving "moral turpitude" is grounds for automatic expulsion only AFTER having been initiated but it does not necessarily mean that someone is automatically disqualified to become a Mason. This will be part of our new Grand Master's Message (if he is elected!) at the upcoming Grand Lodge Communication. 

His message will be that even as much as every lodge could use more members, we must be very careful when considering who is entitled to become a member.  We must always keep in mind that becoming a Mason is a privilege, not a right!

It is OK to NOT give someone a petition if there is any doubt that he will become a true and faithful member of our fraternity. 

And if he does get a petition and it is presented to the lodge, the voting members are given an opportunity to object to the receipt of that petition and if there are 2 or more objections, the petition is rejected and his initiation fee is returned.

And if the lodge does receive the petition, it is OK for the investigating committee to NOT report favorably on his petition but the lodge must ballot on the petition regardless of the report of the committee at that point.

And if the petition does make it as far as the balloting process,  there is (or should be) a sufficient number of black cubes in the ballot box to reject the petition. In Missouri, it takes more than 2 black cubes to reject a ballot and at that point, his initiation fee is returned.

And as if that is not enough....

When it comes to the conferral of the degree, the WM asks the SW if he has anything for the (further) action for this lodge of EAs. After making his announcement, the WM says one last time, "If there is no objection, we will proceed to confer the degree." If there are more than two objections, this rejects the candidate for one year. (Unless they object for the purpose of further inquiry in which case the initiation shall not proceed for sixty days. 

So as you can see, there are plenty of opportunities to reject a potential candidate's request to become a member.

As far as checking someone's criminal record, in Missouri, we have something called Casenet (https://www.courts.mo.gov/casenet/base/welcome.do) where you can look up anyone and see if they appear in any matter before any court in Missouri. These are PUBLIC records and would not violate any privacy issues by looking to see if someone appears in these records. 

[/soapbox]

See you at Grand Lodge next weekend Bob!


Edited by WBScott - September/19/2015 at 10:13pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BigBob Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/19/2015 at 11:25pm
I can certainly understand why a jurisdiction would outright ban felons and those guilty of serious misdemeanors from joining. However, I think this discussion highlights the need for us to be more selective than the craft at large are likely willing to be. We need to KNOW these men. A background check and meeting the family, having them over for a few meals is not enough. Let's see there commitment before letting them join (this of course requires that we do things to give them the opportunity, not to providing a meaningful experience after they do).

IMHO, if they have a criminal record their eligibility should be determined on an individual basis, not through a blanket decree. Not every "felon" is a bad guy, and not everyone with a clean record is a "good man."   
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Warrior1256 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/22/2015 at 11:09am
I am a relatively new MM having been raised jus over a year ago, but as I understand it here in Kentucky a felony conviction disqualifies a person from membership. Misdemeanors are considered on a case by case basis.
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