In 1965, the California Legislature created the Child Abuse Central Index (the “CACI”) as a tool for state and local agencies to protect the health and safety of California children. Each year, hundreds, if not thousands of names are reported to the CACI. The names are submitted by police officers, sheriffs, and county welfare andprobation departments. In 2008, the database contained approximately 819,000 names.
Each reporting agency is required by law to forward to the California Department of Justice a report of every child abuse or neglect incident it investigates, unless the incident has been determined to be unfounded or general neglect. If the findings of the investigations are substantiated or inconclusive, the name must be reported to the CACI. This is the unsettling part of the CACI. Even if there was not enough evidence to charge you with a crime, and even if the investigation is inconclusive, your name will still be listed on CACI.
Unlike the better-known sexual offender database created by Megan’s Law (which contains the names of about 63,000 California sex offenders), those contained on CACI do not have to be convicted of a crime to be placed on the database. Also unlike the sex offender registry, the CACI is not actively managed by the state, nor is it periodically purged of erroneous or unsubstantiated entries. The Department of Justice is not responsible for the accuracy or completeness of the CACI; instead, the CACI serves only as a “pointer” back to the original submitting agency (i.e. the police department that submitted the name).
The information on file in the CACI includes:
(1) Names and personal descriptions of the suspects and victims listed on reports;
(2) Reporting agency that investigated the incident;
(3) The name and/or number assigned to the case by the investigating agency;
(4) Type(s) of abuse investigated; and
(5) The findings of the investigation for the incident, which is either substantiated or inconclusive.
If you think the CACI doesn’t sound right, you are not alone. The California Department of Justice has been ordered in at least three court decisions to create a standard way to remove those people’s names from CACI that have been exonerated by courts or social service investigations. The United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled that an Appellant’s privacy rights were violated by being placed on CACI. In Humphries v. County of Los Angeles, 554 F.3d 1170, the Ninth Circuit held it was unconstitutional to reference an individual’s name for listing on the CACI without due process.
In response, California has implemented a set of procedures for listing a person’s name on CACI and also for challenging such listing.
If you or a loved one has been placed on California’s Child Abuse Central Index, contact the Morales Law Firm today to discuss removing your name from the index.