Support College After Incarceration

Ban the Box on College Applications Petition
“Remove the criminal convictions question(s) from the initial application process.”
Petitioning: Maryland General Assembly, Maryland Independent College & University Assoc., and University System of Maryland.

Demand that your school and other universities/colleges in Maryland provide an application that does not include the discriminatory "box" nor ask applicants any question(s) pertaining to past guilt or conviction of a misdemeanor, felony, or other prior offense in the initial application process.

Statistics Support College After Incarceration: The national recidivism rate (1) drops from 76% to 5.6% if an individual obtains a bachelor’s degree and below 1% with a Masters degree (2,3). Most crimes on campus are committed by people with no prior convictions (4).   

Thus, as a public safety strategy, universities and colleges should be doing everything they can to promote access to higher education – not create more barriers.

Support this Petition: Job Opportunities Task Force in partnership with From Prison Cells to Phd and other organizations insist that you support “Ban the Box on College Applications.” Sign the petition here.   

People make mistakes, and people deserve second chances . Unfortunately, people who have made poor decisions in the past and are trying to better themselves by pursuing higher education face a major barrier: a box that they must check disclosing their criminal history on college applications.

By requiring applicants to disclose their criminal history, universities impose an unnecessary and discriminatory barrier to education. This process reduces the applicant to the mere moment when they incurred a criminal record rather than seeing the full person with all of their interests, skills, and experiences.

Asking about criminal history on college applications is not a practice grounded in empirical evidence and does not promote public safety. Studies show that college education during or after prison helps individuals reintegrate into society and reduces the chance they will end up back in prison.  

Maryland Fair Access to Education Act of 2017
Senate Bill 543 & House Bill 694 seeks to remove the arrest/conviction question from the initial college applications. The question would still be asked later. By moving it, the applicant can be assessed on merit alone.

Sign The Petition Here
Ban the Box on College Applications

Ban the Box on College Applications
Support Rally

Date: Saturday, October 7th, 11am - 2pm
Location: Johns Hopkins University, Beach (grass area in front of library), 3400 Charles Street

Support the right to education for everyone!! Join the Facebook event for updates  


We will gather Saturday, October 7th, to rally in support of the Maryland Fair Access to Education Act of 2017, which passed with strong bi-partisan support in the Senate and the House last legislative session, until being vetoed by Governor Hogan. In early 2018 the General Assembly will vote to override this veto, and we need your support!

Featured Speakers: Maryland Policy Advocates

Join us! Help spread the word and gain the support of higher education institutions in Maryland! There will be FREE food and community resources for all to enjoy.

Reality Check: What is “the Box”

Access to Higher Education is a human right. It can be transformative and it:
1. Enables social mobility
2. Reduces poverty and provides access to well-paying jobs
3. Helps people develop a professional identity and provides life opportunities
4. Promotes critical thinking and analytical skills
5. Reduces recidivism and strengthens communities

Criminal History Screenings in college admissions create barriers to these opportunities for formerly incarcerated people.

Mass Incarceration: In the United States, the prison system has grown by over 700% since 1980 and there are currently 2.3 million people in prison (5). Mass incarceration disparately impacts people of color. Black men are seven times more likely to be incarcerated than white men (6).

Collateral Consequences: Formerly incarcerated individuals face barriers to accessing services, as well as restrictions on where they may work or live. These collateral consequences can range from denial of worker’s compensation to exclusion from public housing, and can impede successful reentry. There are more than 1,000 laws outlining the long-term consequences of criminal conviction in New York (7). See PCtP Blog here:  

On One’s Own Merit: Research shows that (of colleges surveyed) 66% screen applicants for criminal history, and private institutions are more likely to collect and use the data in admissions decisions than public and two-year institutions (8). This leads to some applicants being denied access to education based on something other than their academic qualifications.
Lack of Evidence: There is no empirical evidence demonstrating that students with criminal records pose a greater safety risk on campus than those who do not.

Discouraging: Inquiry into criminal history, whatever its intent, discourages otherwise qualified people from applying (9). Asking applicants to “check the box” screens out qualified individuals.

Unnecessary Hurdles: Some colleges require applicants to obtain their criminal history records at their own expense. These records contain information that has been sealed, charges that have been dismissed, or information that has otherwise been deemed legally confidential, such as Youthful Offender adjudications, which admissions officials have no legal right to view.

Colleges and Universities Lack Consistent Screening Policies and Procedures
Just six percent of schools responding to a survey conducted by the Center for Community Alternatives report that their admissions process is identical for applicants with and without criminal records. 47.1% of higher education institutions lack a written policy regarding the admissions of applicants with criminal records.

Requirements vary by institution:
 90% of institutions require a letter of explanation
 63.2% require a letter from a corrections official
 54.2% require a personal interview
 38.5% require completion of community supervision
 15.2% of respondents require applicants to submit rap sheets to institutions

Higher Education Reduces Recidivism (10):
Nationally, 43.3% of formerly incarcerated individuals are likely to return to prison within three years of release. The recidivism rate drops dramatically with access to higher education:
 Masters: less than 1%
 Baccalaureates: 5.6%
 Associates: 13.7%

Increasing Access to Higher Education Pays Off
The value of higher education is clear. Higher education:
 Decreases reliance on public assistance
 Increases employment rates
 Improves physical and mental health
 Elevates quality of life for children
 Strengthens communities

5. The Sentencing Project (2012). Trends in US Corrections.
6. Source: Guerino, P., Harrison, P. M., & Sabol, W. (2011). Prisoners in 2010. Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics
7. Look up your state at:
8. Center for Community Alternatives (2010). The Use of Criminal History Records in College Admissions Reconsidered.
9. Halkovic, et al. (2013). Higher Education and Reentry: The Gifts They Bring.
9. Fine, M., Torre, M.E., Boudin, K., et al. (2001). Changing Minds: The Impact of College in a Maximum Security Prison. The Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

Share Your Support on Social Media!
Official hashtag: #BanTheBoxMD

Sample tweets:
Educate don’t discriminate - @[YourTarget] @FromPrisonCellsToPhD #BanTheBoxMD

Open minds, don’t close doors! College admissions is no place for criminal history screenings. #JustAdmissionsMD #BanTheBoxMD @FromPrisonCellsToPhD

Higher education can reduce recidivism, transform lives - #BanTheBoxMD 

Serious about campus safety? Criminal history screenings don’t help. #JustAdmissionsMD

Buy a Shirt today!
Support College After Incarceration!

All funds raised will be paid directly to:
From Prison Cells to PhD, Inc for Supporting College After Incarceration.

Wear your Shirt on the day of the Rally.



Text Story Submission

Are you formerly incarcerated? Do you know someone who is? 
Share your story about your/their struggles and triumphs accessing higher education after incarceration! How did access to higher education help transform your/their life? What types of barriers did you/they face when trying to access higher education after incarceration?

Participating in this video campaign is an opportunity for you to voice your personal experience about this systemic issue. Read on for details and instructions about how to create and submit your video and be part of this important campaign on your campus and across the nation.

Video Submission Logistics:
Submission Deadline : October 1, 2017 at 5:00 p.m. EST

Submission Process  

Consent Form (for others in video)