New Law Could Bar Colleges from Doing Criminal Checks on Prospective Students Until After Admission

Published: May 16, 2016, by admin in Criminal Defense, Legal Blog, Student Crimes

Getting a college education is a big part of the American dream. But if you made a mistake in the past, however small, and it led to a criminal conviction, your chance of that American dream can be shattered. It is commonplace for colleges and university to check into the criminal history of prospective students and to deny entry due to any past conviction, even minor offenses like a marijuana charge. But that might be changing soon.

Illinois Moves Forward with Revolutionary Law

There is now legislation heading to the General Assembly of Illinois to prevent schools from doing criminal background checks on prospective students. The bill, which was proposed by Rep. Barbara Wheeler, gained a tremendous amount of support at the committee level and is now on its way to the full house.

The purpose behind the bill is to give students with a criminal past a fresh start. There is no doubt that education is a great opportunity and a gateway to a fulfilling career that will contribute to the economy of the state and the country. If made into law, students with criminal past applying to colleges will do so freely without having their past and repaired behavior stifling their chances of a promising future.

But the proposed legislation comes with a small qualifier. Schools can do the necessary criminal checks after admission. It is not clear yet, how knowledge of past criminal behavior will affect a student’s continued enrollment.

Is This a Bad Move?

While the bill received a 16-1 favorable vote at the committee level, it is expected to gather some opposition as it makes its way through the legislative process. While proponents of the bill see it as a way to remove roadblocks from getting an education, there are many who view the proposal as a bad idea.

There is no doubt that schools see an obvious advantage and purpose to checking into the criminal background of prospective students. Paramount to many school administration is the safety of students, faculty and other members of staff on their campus. After all, a criminal pass can include a conviction for crimes that portrays an individual that has the propensity to display violent behavior.

However, this proposed legislation supports some of the key principles of the criminal justice system. Of utmost importance is the fact that once an individual has served his or her sentence, society should cease to punish that person, especially in relation to pursuing an education which can only be of benefit to the rehabilitation of a past offender. Further, past criminal behavior is not an indication of such actions in the future, as much as no criminal record is not an indication that there will be no criminal propensity in the future.

How the Chicago Criminal Defense Lawyers at O’Meara Law Can Help

At O’Meara Law, we fight and protect the rights of those who are facing and have passed through the criminal judicial system. If you are looking to get into college, but you have a criminal past, call our Chicago criminal defense lawyers today at 312-909-0706 and let us take about the legal avenues available.