NJ lawmaker wants ‘Ban the Box’ law for college applications

New Jersey already has a Ban the Box law that prohibits employers from asking a job applicant about their criminal history.

Soon, a similar type of Ban the Box provision may be added to applications at Garden State universities.

Congresswoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson, D-Mercer, is sponsoring a measure, A3869, that would prevent New Jersey colleges and universities from asking people applying for admission about their criminal history as adults or minors.

She said that if someone has served time behind bars and is trying to turn their life around, and part of that effort involves a plan to try to go to college, “the last thing we want do is penalize him again for a crime that they have already served their sentence and now they are back in the community and they are looking to higher education.

It makes a difference

Reynolds-Jackson said nearly two-thirds of potential convicted college students don’t complete their application after answering “yes” to the criminal history question.

She stressed that it is important for those trying to reintegrate into society to have a real chance to do so.

“We’re talking about workforce development, we’re talking about creating careers not just jobs, and you can do that through higher education if you’re allowed to,” she said.

She said that while asking questions about someone’s criminal history as part of an initial college application deters some people from going ahead, we have to ask ourselves, ‘Let’s try We’re really about helping people reintegrate into our communities and our society and better themselves if we’re still stopping them at the door.

Prison guard with keys walking outside the cell


Other states do

She noted that several states, including California, Louisiana, Maryland and Washington, have already approved bans on asking student applicants about their criminal history.

“We want people to have the opportunity to apply, possibly to be conditionally accepted, and to be able to improve their lives through higher education,” she said.

Reynolds-Jackson stressed that the ban on criminal history questions would not apply in situations where particularly serious crimes such as murder, sexual assault, kidnapping and human trafficking had been committed. .

She said that only after accepting an applicant can a facility ask about their criminal history, for the purpose of offering supportive counseling services as well as making decisions about student participation. a student in university life.

The legislation also provides for the establishment of a Universal College Candidature Development Task Force, which would be tasked with developing a standard candidacy for universal college admission.

She noted that the provisions of the bill would not apply to an application for admission to law school.

The measure was referred to the Higher Education Committee of the Assembly for consideration.

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]

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