Cedric Richmond and Elijah Cummings Intro Bill for Potential Students with Criminal Records
Congressman Cedric Richmond (D-LA) introduced legislation on Wednesday intended to create more educational opportunities for Americans with criminal records. The Beyond the Box for Higher Education Act, which Richmond introduced with Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD), would encourage colleges and universities to remove criminal and juvenile justice questions from their admissions applications, giving more Americans a chance to earn a higher education. “Education is the gateway for success in accomplishing anything in life, and all American citizens regardless of a criminal background deserve the right to an education,” Richmond said. “This bill is a necessary step forward to removing collateral consequences and systemic barriers to entry for people who deserve another chance at life.” About 70 million Americans have some type of criminal record, which shows up on all routine background checks and makes it more difficult for those individuals to go to college, find a good-paying job, and rebuild their lives. Studies have shown that application rejection rates for individuals with convictions can be as high as 12 to 13 percentage points more than for those without. And many with a criminal background fail to complete their application once they reach the criminal history question, knowing responding to the questions would greatly diminish their chance of admission. This bill would offer recommendations for colleges and universities that decide to keep criminal and juvenile justice questions, such as delaying the request for such information to avoid a chilling effect, and making transparent, specific, and narrow inquiries that offer prospective students the opportunity to explain their involvement. More here.