April 01, 2017

Education for Ex-Offenders

The ABA expressed its support March 22 for legislation that passed the Maryland House and Senate to prohibit state-funded institutions of higher education from considering a person’s criminal history during the admissions process except in specific circumstances. “Education is directly related to better employment and lower rates of criminal recidivism,” ABA Governmental Affairs Director Thomas M. Susman wrote in letters to the Maryland General Assembly’s House Appropriations Committee and Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Committee. He added that allowing past offenders to be free from discrimination in higher education opportunities will even the playing field and allow them to better themselves professionally, thereby reducing the risk of further interaction with the criminal justice system. Susman said the legislation, Senate Bill 543 and House Bill 694, will help applicants who have a criminal history at least be considered for higher education, and, if admitted and allowed to graduate, will potentially help them get a better job later. He explained that the ABA has multiple projects, policies and standards ensuring fair treatment of individuals with criminal records, including the creation of the National Inventory of Collateral Consequences of Conviction, a publicly searchable database of collateral consequences in all U.S. jurisdictions. In addition, Section 19-3.1 of the ABA Standards on Collateral Sanctions and Discretionary Disqualification of Convicted Persons states that the legislature “should prohibit discretionary disqualification of a convicted person from benefits or opportunities, including housing, employment, insurance, and occupational and professional licenses, permits and certifications, on grounds related to the conviction, unless engaging in the conduct underlying the conviction would provide a substantial basis for disqualification even if the person had not been convicted.”

 

 

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