The U.S. Justice Department is considering a national warning to colleges and universities about the dangers of screening applicants by criminal record. If your institution denies ex-criminals access to education, are you able to defend your policy in court?
The ivory towers have long crumbled at universities and colleges. Now educational institutions post online the record of yearly criminal offenses on campus. They are under pressure to let students and professors carry guns on campus. And many of them perform background checks on prospective students, refusing admission to anyone with a criminal record.
Proponents of banning ex-criminals from higher education maintain that the security of the college is paramount; opponents stress that ex-criminals need education for employment and rehabilitation. Arguments arise over the necessity of a ban in the case of some crimes or if the ex-criminal takes online courses only.
Criminal records are not easy to interpret. A college or university admissions staff that is untrained in background checks may make harsher or less consistent decisions than intended because they misunderstand the records. They may also overlook criminals: they don’t have the skills and tools to investigate every available database, from county courthouse records to the federal government’s sanctioned watchlist. They don’t know how to check for aliases and are unaware of the differences in data from state to state.
ARS specializes in criminal background checks. We have decades of experience in finding and interpreting criminal records. Our website contains a list of the products that we use every day. Contact us today.
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