Bill S6437-2013

Relates to college admissions for persons previously convicted of one or more criminal offenses

Relates to college admissions for persons previously convicted of one or more criminal offenses.

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  • Jan 23, 2014: REFERRED TO CRIME VICTIMS, CRIME AND CORRECTION

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BILL NUMBER:S6437               REVISED 5/30/14

TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the correction law and the executive law, in relation to college admission for persons previously convicted of one or more criminal offenses

PURPOSE: The Fair Access to Education Act is intended to enhance public safety, greater racial fairness, and the economic and social well-being of all New Yorkers by removing needless barriers to higher education faced by people with past criminal justice involvement.

The Fair Access to Education Act is named for Vivian Nixon who experienced the devastating impact of criminal history screening in college admissions. After serving time in prison, Vivian was determined to transform her life, and a college education became central to her goal. The first college to which she applied and for which she was academically well qualified denied her admission based upon criminal history screening.

Vivian's college application experience is not unique. A growing number of colleges and universities are screening applicants and erecting barriers to admission for people with past criminal justice involvement despite the fact that there is no evidence that doing so makes college campuses safer.

There are many negative consequences that flow from this practice. Access to higher. education is highly correlated to economic stability and social mobility. It is also linked to reduced recidivism for people with past criminal justice involvement. Moreover, because of the well-documented existence of racial disparities in our criminal justice system, screening applicants for past criminal justice involvement has a disparate impact on applicants of color. As a result, screening college applicants for past arrests and convictions undermines the gains made during the civil rights era to increase higher education opportunities for all people, regardless of their race or ethnicity.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: The Correction Law would be amended by adding new provisions that explicitly prohibit colleges from asking about or considering applicants' past arrests and/or convictions during the application and admission decision-making process. In addition, a new subdivision would be added to section 296 of the Executive (Human Rights) Law to make it an unlawful discriminatory practice for colleges to ask about or consider prior criminal justice involvement during the application and admission decision-making process.

This bill would not prevent colleges from asking about or using information about past criminal justice involvement once an applicant is admitted to make post admission decisions, such as housing and support services. In making such decisions, colleges are urged to consider the reentry benefits of allowing students with past criminal convictions full access to all aspects of college life, as well as the disparate impact on students of color that will necessarily follow if decision-making is based on criminal histories.

Long ago, in the landmark decision Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S, 493, the United States Supreme Court recognized the critical role

that education plays in our society and the importance of ensuring that all people have access to education, stating as follows: (Education) is required in the performance of our most basic public responsibilities, even service in the armed forces. It is the very foundation of good citizenship. Today it is a principal instrument in awakening the child to cultural values, in preparing him for later professional training, and in helping him to adjust normally to his environment. In these days, it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education. Such an opportunity where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms.

This legislation will make the aspirations of Brown v. Board of Education a reality for people with past criminal justice involvement.

Furthermore, it is to the benefit of our great state's economy to have more of its citizens as gainfully employed tax-payers than either re-incarcerated, or reliant on public assistance because they are unable to compete in our demanding economy. By removing barriers to higher education, those with past criminal justice involvement will be equipped with the tools necessary to become fully reintegrated into society, in turn strengthening families and the fabric of New York's communities.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Immediately


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STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ S. 6437 A. 8574 S E N A T E - A S S E M B L Y January 23, 2014 ___________
IN SENATE -- Introduced by Sens. MONTGOMERY, HASSELL-THOMPSON, PARKER -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Crime Victims, Crime and Correction IN ASSEMBLY -- Introduced by M. of A. PEOPLES-STOKES -- read once and referred to the Committee on Correction AN ACT to amend the correction law and the executive law, in relation to college admission for persons previously convicted of one or more criminal offenses THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. The correction law is amended by adding a new article 23-B to read as follows: ARTICLE 23-B COLLEGE ADMISSIONS FOR PERSONS PREVIOUSLY CONVICTED OF ONE OR MORE CRIMINAL OFFENSES SECTION 770. DEFINITIONS. 771. LEGISLATIVE INTENT. 772. PROHIBITION AGAINST INQUIRIES ABOUT ARRESTS THAT DID NOT RESULT IN A CRIMINAL CONVICTION AND CRIMINAL CONVICTIONS THAT HAVE BEEN SEALED. 773. PRE-ACCEPTANCE PROHIBITION AGAINST INQUIRY INTO CRIMINAL HISTORY. 774. POST-ACCEPTANCE INQUIRY ABOUT CRIMINAL HISTORY PERMITTED. 775. INQUIRIES INTO CRIMINAL HISTORY NOT REQUIRED. 776. ENFORCEMENT. S 770. DEFINITIONS. 1. "COLLEGE" SHALL MEAN COLLEGES, UNIVERSITIES, PROFESSIONAL AND TECHNICAL SCHOOLS AND OTHER INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATION AUTHORIZED TO CONFER DEGREES PURSUANT TO SUBDIVISIONS TWO, THREE AND EIGHT OF SECTION TWO OF THE EDUCATION LAW. 2. "ADMISSIONS DECISION-MAKING PROCESS" SHALL MEAN SUBMISSION OF THE APPLICATION AND ALL ASPECTS OF THE APPLICATION PROCESS THROUGH ADMIS- SION.
3. "DIRECT RELATIONSHIP" MEANS THAT THERE IS A SUBSTANTIAL CONNECTION BETWEEN THE NATURE OF THE CRIME FOR WHICH THE ACCEPTED INDIVIDUAL WAS CONVICTED AND THE ACTIVITY OR ASPECT OF CAMPUS LIFE AT ISSUE AND SUCH CONNECTION WOULD CREATE AN UNREASONABLE RISK TO THE PROPERTY OR TO THE SAFETY OR WELFARE OF SPECIFIC INDIVIDUALS OR THE CAMPUS AS A WHOLE IF THE ACCEPTED STUDENT IS PERMITTED TO PARTICIPATE WITH OR WITHOUT CONDI- TIONS. S 771. LEGISLATIVE INTENT. COLLEGE EDUCATION PLAYS A CRITICAL ROLE IN DEVELOPING GOOD CITIZENSHIP, CREATING ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL OPPORTUNITIES, AND ENHANCING PUBLIC SAFETY BY REDUCING THE RECIDIVISM OF INDIVIDUALS WITH A CRIMINAL HISTORY RECORD. THEREFORE, IT IS THE PUBLIC POLICY OF THIS STATE TO PROMOTE THE ADMISSION TO COLLEGE OF INDIVIDUALS PREVIOUSLY CONVICTED OF ONE OR MORE CRIMINAL OFFENSES AND TO ALLOW SUCH INDIVIDUALS TO FULLY PARTICIPATE IN ALL ASPECTS OF COLLEGE LIFE. S 772. PROHIBITION AGAINST INQUIRIES ABOUT ARRESTS THAT DID NOT RESULT IN A CRIMINAL CONVICTION AND CRIMINAL CONVICTIONS THAT HAVE BEEN SEALED. AT NO TIME DURING THE ADMISSION DECISION-MAKING PROCESS OR WHILE A STUDENT IS ENROLLED SHALL COLLEGES MAKE ANY INQUIRY OR CONSIDER INFORMA- TION ABOUT ANY ARREST OR CRIMINAL ACCUSATION OF AN INDIVIDUAL WHO IS APPLYING FOR ADMISSION OR HAS BEEN ADMITTED THAT WAS FOLLOWED BY A TERMINATION OF THAT CRIMINAL ACTION OR PROCEEDING IN FAVOR OF SUCH INDI- VIDUAL AS DEFINED IN SUBDIVISION TWO OF SECTION 160.50 OF THE CRIMINAL PROCEDURE LAW AND SECTION 375.1 OF THE FAMILY COURT ACT, OR BY A YOUTH- FUL OFFENDER ADJUDICATION AS DEFINED IN SUBDIVISION ONE OF SECTION 720.35 OF THE CRIMINAL PROCEDURE LAW, OR BY A JUVENILE DELINQUENCY ADJU- DICATION AS DEFINED IN SUBDIVISION ONE OF SECTION 380.1 OF THE FAMILY COURT ACT, OR BY A CONVICTION FOR A VIOLATION SEALED OR SEALABLE PURSU- ANT TO SECTION 160.55 OF THE CRIMINAL PROCEDURE LAW, OR BY A CONVICTION WHICH IS SEALED PURSUANT TO SECTION 160.58 OF THE CRIMINAL PROCEDURE LAW. S 773. PRE-ACCEPTANCE PROHIBITION AGAINST INQUIRY INTO CRIMINAL HISTO- RY. COLLEGES MAY NOT MAKE ANY INQUIRY OR CONSIDER INFORMATION ABOUT AN INDIVIDUAL'S PAST CRIMINAL CONVICTION OR CONVICTIONS AT ANY TIME DURING THE APPLICATION AND ADMISSIONS DECISION-MAKING PROCESS. S 774. POST-ACCEPTANCE INQUIRY ABOUT CRIMINAL HISTORY PERMITTED. 1. AFTER AN INDIVIDUAL HAS BEEN ADMITTED AS A STUDENT, COLLEGES MAY MAKE INQUIRIES ABOUT AND CONSIDER INFORMATION ABOUT THE INDIVIDUAL'S PAST CRIMINAL CONVICTION HISTORY FOR THE PURPOSE OF OFFERING SUPPORTIVE COUN- SELING AND SERVICES. 2. COLLEGES MAY ALSO MAKE INQUIRIES ABOUT AND CONSIDER INFORMATION ABOUT THE INDIVIDUAL'S PAST CRIMINAL CONVICTION HISTORY FOR THE PURPOSE OF MAKING DECISIONS ABOUT PARTICIPATION IN ACTIVITIES AND ASPECTS OF CAMPUS LIFE ASSOCIATED WITH THE INDIVIDUAL'S STATUS AS A STUDENT, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO HOUSING. IN MAKING SUCH INQUIRIES AND CONSIDERING SUCH INFORMATION: (A) COLLEGES SHALL NOT USE INFORMATION ABOUT AN ADMITTED INDIVIDUAL'S CRIMINAL CONVICTION HISTORY TO RESCIND AN OFFER OF ADMISSION. (B) COLLEGES SHALL NOT ESTABLISH OUTRIGHT BARS TO ANY ACTIVITIES OR PARTICIPATION IN ASPECTS OF CAMPUS LIFE BASED ON AN ADMITTED INDIVID- UAL'S CRIMINAL CONVICTION HISTORY. INSTEAD, COLLEGES MUST DEVELOP AN INDIVIDUALIZED PROCESS FOR DETERMINING WHETHER OR NOT THERE IS A DIRECT RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE ACCEPTED INDIVIDUAL'S CRIMINAL CONVICTION HISTORY AND THE ACTIVITY OR ASPECT OF CAMPUS LIFE AT ISSUE. THIS INDI- VIDUALIZED PROCESS MUST BE SET FORTH IN WRITING AND MUST INCLUDE CONSID- ERATION OF:
(I) THE AGE OF THE INDIVIDUAL AT THE TIME OF THE BEHAVIOR UNDERLYING THE CRIMINAL CONVICTION OR CONVICTIONS; (II) THE TIME THAT HAS ELAPSED SINCE THE BEHAVIOR UNDERLYING THE CRIM- INAL CONVICTION OR CONVICTIONS; (III) THE NATURE OF THE CONVICTION OR CONVICTIONS AND WHETHER IT BEARS A DIRECT RELATIONSHIP TO THE ACTIVITY OR PARTICIPATION IN ASPECTS OF CAMPUS LIFE AT ISSUE; AND (IV) ANY EVIDENCE OF REHABILITATION OR GOOD CONDUCT PRODUCED BY THE ACCEPTED INDIVIDUAL. (C) THIS INDIVIDUALIZED PROCESS MUST FURTHER PROVIDE AN ACCEPTED INDI- VIDUAL AN OPPORTUNITY TO APPEAL ANY DENIAL OR LIMITATION OF ACCESS TO ANY ACTIVITY OR ASPECT OF CAMPUS LIFE. COLLEGES MUST FURTHER INFORM ACCEPTED INDIVIDUALS OF THIS PROCESS IN WRITING, INCLUDING THEIR RIGHT TO PROVIDE EVIDENCE OF REHABILITATION AND GOOD CONDUCT AND THEIR RIGHT TO APPEAL. S 775. INQUIRIES INTO CRIMINAL HISTORY NOT REQUIRED. THIS ARTICLE DOES NOT REQUIRE COLLEGES TO MAKE INQUIRIES INTO OR CONSIDER AN INDIVIDUAL'S CRIMINAL CONVICTION HISTORY FOR ANY REASON. IF COLLEGES ELECT TO DO SO FOR THE PURPOSE OF DETERMINING IF THERE IS A DIRECT RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE ACCEPTED INDIVIDUAL'S CONVICTION OR CONVICTIONS AND ACTIVITIES OR PARTICIPATION IN ASPECTS OF CAMPUS LIFE, COLLEGES MUST CONSIDER THE STATE'S POLICY TO PROMOTE THE ADMISSION TO COLLEGE OF INDIVIDUALS PREVI- OUSLY CONVICTED OF ONE OR MORE CRIMINAL OFFENSES AND OF ALLOWING SUCH INDIVIDUALS FULL ACCESS TO ALL ASPECTS OF COLLEGE LIFE. S 776. ENFORCEMENT. FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH THIS SECTION SHALL BE AN UNLAWFUL DISCRIMINATORY PRACTICE AS DEFINED IN SUBDIVISION TWENTY-TWO OF SECTION TWO HUNDRED NINETY-SIX OF THE EXECUTIVE LAW. S 2. Section 296 of the executive law is amended by adding a new subdivision 22 to read as follows: 22. IT SHALL BE AN UNLAWFUL DISCRIMINATORY PRACTICE FOR ANY COLLEGE, AS DEFINED IN SUBDIVISION ONE OF SECTION SEVEN HUNDRED SEVENTY OF THE CORRECTION LAW, TO MAKE ANY INQUIRY INTO OR CONSIDER INFORMATION ABOUT AN INDIVIDUAL'S PAST ARREST OR CONVICTION HISTORY AT ANY TIME DURING THE APPLICATION AND ADMISSIONS DECISION-MAKING PROCESS OR TO RESCIND AN OFFER OF ADMISSION BASED UPON INFORMATION ABOUT AN INDIVIDUAL'S ARREST OR CONVICTION THAT OCCURRED PRIOR TO ADMISSION. S 3. This act shall take effect immediately.

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