Calif. fails to screen substance-abuse counselors

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The investigative arm of the state Senate has found nearly two dozen registered sex offenders serving as substance-abuse counselors in California, which lacks procedures to screen them out.

The Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes said in a report Monday that California and Pennsylvania are the only two large states that conduct no criminal background checks on drug and alcohol counselors.

Other states check applicants' fingerprints against criminal records or require applicants to report their own backgrounds, with penalties if they lie.

California also has no system to weed out counselors who are convicted of crimes after they have started working.

The report says the state should take charge of credentialing counselors or require that the current certifying organizations do a better job.

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