I urged my school to take the criminal records question off our admission application. The question was doing more harm than good: it disproportionately impacted poor and non-white applicants while further stigmatizing and potentially deterring great students. Moreover, no research exists to support the claim that criminal record questions on college applications are effective in improving campus safety, but research has found these questions to be ineffective in predicting future college misconduct.
I recognize that education is key to moving on and moving up – an opportunity that should be made available for those who have been caught, in addition to the rest of us who have not.
If you’re a school administrator, teacher, student, or just believe in the importance of an education:
Learn more about truly innovative programs, like The Petey Greene Program and The Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program, and follow Oregon State University’s Inside-Out students on at We Are the 1 in 100.
Get involved through the Education from the Inside Out Coalition and follow education activist Bruce Reilly on Twitter. Start the conversation on your campus with EIOC’s fact sheets, which include information on Fairness in College Admissions and reestablishing eligibility for college financial aid through Pell Grants.
Read more about the importance of education in reentry – and reentry to education in John Jay College of Criminal Justice’s Higher Education and Reentry: the Gifts They Bring.
For further reading, see the Center for Community Alternative’s BOXED OUT: Criminal History Screening and College Application Attrition (2015), Use of Criminal Records in College Admissions: Reconsidered, and their Guide for Attorneys Representing College Applicants and Students During and After Criminal Proceedings.
Watch Benay Rubenstein’s short documentary, Passport to the Future.