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House Co-Sponsorship Memoranda

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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: January 9, 2019 10:17 AM
From: Representative Morgan Cephas
To: All House members
Subject: Ban-the-Box on Applications to PASSHE Universities
Many colleges and universities have a criminal history box to check-off on their applications for acceptance to their institutions, which can cause students with a criminal history to be discouraged before they have even begun the process. The application process for such students may involve needing to provide multiple forms of information relating to their criminal record, which can be hugely cumbersome and burdensome and, ultimately, so discouraging that a majority of promising, talented young people lose hope and fail to complete the application process altogether. For example, a recent study found that two-thirds of State University of New York (SUNY) applicants with a felony conviction failed to complete the application process, compared to a rate of 21 percent for all applicants.

Students applying to institutions of higher education who may have a criminal record of some type are often at a disadvantage when seeking to better their lives and become full-time contributing members of society. Further, such individuals, if they do become students, are faced with many challenges in attempting to make it to the finish line by completing their degree and graduating. Interestingly, research shows that, when students with a criminal history enroll at college, there is no direct correlation between a student’s criminal background and any increase in criminal activity.

With this in mind, my legislation would “ban-the-box” on the initial application for students seeking to enroll in one of the universities of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE). We need to eliminate the barriers for those young people who are seeking to better their lives and want to make something of themselves as law-abiding citizens. Please join me in helping to make this possible by co-sponsoring this legislation.