Collateral Damages and then some…
Every day it seems like new ways for unjustifiable damage to be inflicted on registrants becomes more and more distinct; and in places you would have never thought about, until it happens to you. Just today, I went to get some paper work to view as a preliminary set of documents of which will help me to be removed from lifetime supervision. While we were looking through the stack of five years worth of rehabilitation and treatment programs I was very surprised to hear the counselor tell me that I was lucky they still had the documents. Apparently they are only required to keep your records for seven-years, after which HIPAA – Health Information Portability and Accountability Act – says they may shred all records after that time.
The counselor informed me that they keep all treatment records relating to registrants; almost indefinitely. What she was saying is that there are extreme measures that they are forced to take, mostly in respect to the client. If they were to shred these documents in less than 10 years then they would be doing their clients a huge disservice by removing any and all possibilities for those records to be made available to registrants like myself who are needing this vital documentation in order to be released from probation, possibly even from registration.
If you had a Level I crime or even a Level II, in most states you would be eligible for filing to be removed. Without these records that may or may not have been shredded by your treatment care provider your chances of going in front of a Judge with the proper ammunition just decreased exponentially.
So I, myself was extremely fortunate that the treatment providers I had been working with were already ahead of the curve and decided to keep everything—in hard copies as file before they started using electronic filing of patient information. My treatment was completed in 2013 so this just gives you an idea of how I came in under the window of the HIPAA requirements. My guess is there are tons of registrants out there who may already be out of luck.
___ IMPORTANT ___
Please contact your treatment providers and be sure that you will have access to those records either at the time you need them, schedule a future date, or even better: you may want to acquire those records before the seven year window just in case your provider does not feel so inclined to keep you records for any longer than the seven years.
This also brings up another matter concerning collateral damage on care providers. How about the costs it takes to keep all of these records stored, collated and cataloged in a manner to be sure that they are available to the patient for a period of time which corresponds to not just the HIPAA duration but according to the SORNA and State ran Registration Programs?
Let us say that you need to be removed from the registry 15 years from now… OK you won the lottery and you can finally afford that fifty-thousand-dollar lawyer. One of the biggest requirements to the paper trail is that you need your MSI scores and all of your annual progress reports along with the Polygraph and any other testing, like the Risk Assessments and even accolades you got for accelerating your progress, etc. So now you go to your old provider, if they are still in business, and by-golly your paper work is just not any where to be found.
They may tell you… Oh, we are not required to keep it for over a certain period of time. Or one of many (legal) reasons. So now what do you do. This is why I would highly suggest getting your documentation prior to the seven-year time. Also be aware that any Federally sponsored treatment providers (could be true for State Departments as well but I can only speak for what I know) can not give you any of your records that are stamped Federal or are that are part of the Federal documentation of which the treatment program received from the Federal department(s). So there may be parts of your records you will never see. Had you had a “medical” history that was not attached to some crime, you would not be excluded from any records at all.
A criminal treatment program is unique in that HIPAA may not apply to your freedom of information accessibility. You may have to wait longer to get your records, as well. The Counselor from the clinics may have to contact State and Federal Departments as well as contact your polygraph and your testing companies to see if there is any information which may be fall under this Not-Freedom of Information release of information.
More Reading on topic:
No proof public safer when sex offenders tracked The outrageous scam of “free” tablets for the incarcerated
In this trying time we want to reiterate a few things for our registrants and families. We don't want there to be any confusion or penalties concerning registry requirements during the Coronavirus Pandemic.
Make sure you know current requirements. You can go to your Sheriff's Office website to see if there is new information there. If so, we suggest you do a screen print and save it. Call your registry office to get clarification on any questions you might have. Document the date, time, who you spoke with and their instructions regarding any address change, vehicle, employment, travel dates if required, etc.
Keep in mind if you are required to update your drivers license annually through the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) you should contact them for their status. Some are limiting the number of people allowed inside and you have to wait to receive a call from them and then come back inside. Document any instructions.Be safe, be smart, stay healthy and know we will get through this.
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