American colleges are now using criminal records information to screen their applicants. There is growing concern by the US Justice Department and Education Department.
By not allowing ex-cons access to higher education they fear the creation of an underclass of undereducated people who would be more likely to commit more crime.
Denying access to education based on criminal records, colleges increase the crime rate because those without jobs are more likely to become repeat offenders. Those ex-cons who have gone so far as to apply to college are among the least likely candidates to return to a life of crime.
College security officials disagree, “It’s helpful information to have in the admissions process, but the mere fact that someone has a criminal background should not automatically deny them.”
Less than half of schools that use criminal background checks have policies place for how to use and only 40% have staff trained to interpret it.
S. Daniel Carter of Security on Campus said, “There’s a legitimate reason for it. When you’re accepted into a college community, it’s more than just to sit in a classroom and study. You’re being accepted into a community of trust and established standards.”