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Louisiana Becomes First State to Ban the Box

June 19, 2017
 
 

The movement to “ban the box” is often touted as a way to help ex-convicts find employment after incarceration. If employers, or states, get rid of the box on a job application where they ask about previous criminal history, that history won’t prevent people who have served their time from reintegrating into society, the argument goes.

Louisiana's governor signed the state's own ban-the-box law earlier on Friday, this time prohibiting state higher-education institutions from inquiring about a potential student’s criminal history during the application process.

The law makes exceptions so that colleges can ask about sexual violence or stalking convictions, according to a local Fox affiliate, though there is also an appeals process for students denied under those questions. Additionally, colleges can ask about criminal history after a student has been admitted, including for the consideration of financial aid and campus housing.

A similar measure failed in Maryland last month when Governor Larry Hogan vetoed a ban-the-box bill for colleges, citing safety concerns.

With the Maryland bill, Hogan expressed concern that it didn’t differentiate between felonies -- like sexual assault -- and misdemeanors. Under the Maryland bill, colleges could have asked criminal history questions through a third party, as long as the colleges posted notices on their websites explaining that criminal history doesn’t necessarily disqualify a student from admission.

In 2016, the State University of New York system banned the box from its college admissions process, though the state has not followed suit in banning the box from all public colleges in New York. Like the Louisiana measure, SUNY can still ask for students' criminal history after admission, which it said would be a consideration when looking at housing, study abroad, internships and certain clinical or field positions. The policy is to go into effect for the 2018 admissions cycle.

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