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Beyond the Box FAQs

How can the box be a deterrent for people with criminal records?

Checking the box and writing a 500+ word personal essay on one of the most traumatic events in someone's life can serve as a major barrier to completing a college application. 

New York found that over 60% of people applying to college that have to check the criminal history box never finish the application. The mere presence of the question is a major deterrent for applicants.

What about people who have committed violent or sex crimes?

In general, someone who has committed a violent or sexual offense is in need of more rehabilitation than someone who has committed, say, a drug or property crime. 

Because people who have committed violent crimes make up the largest portion of the incarcerated population, it is important that we address their rehabilitation alongside those who have committed non-violent crimes. 

Additionally, data shows that people who are being actively "treated," as in, involved in programs and their community, pose a low risk for reoffending. This, combined with research that people with a violent crime on their record have significantly lower rates of reoffending, serve as statistical evidence that people delegated to this category of crime are typically a lower risk than the stigma around the crime would like to admit.

Will this legislation lead to more crime on college campuses? 

20 years of research indicates that asking about criminal records on college applications, and, ultimately, accepting people with criminal histories onto college campuses, does not affect campus safety.

Logically, people with criminal histories attending college are in the process of actively bettering themselves and choosing a future where crime is no longer an option. 

Read Robert Stewart's recent study on college applications here.

Why do we have to ban the box? Why can't we just be more holistic in our admissions process?

It is the criminal legal system's job to punish people, not college or employers or society. Continuing to punish someone after they have already been punished serves no one.

Altering the admissions process will not mitigate the massive deterrence factor that the presence of these questions present.

Additionally, college admissions offices are not equipped or trained to act as 'risk assessors' or to utilize other strategies that involve an intricate knowledge of the system and its intersectionalities necessary to have a 'holistic admissions process.'

How does this legislation make our communities safer?

Statistics show that Georgia's current recidivism rate hovers at 50%, when taking technical supervision violations into account. Meanwhile recidivism rates among those with a Bachelor's degree is steady at 5.6%

Currently, incarceration has not been proven to reduce or deter violent crimes. On the same note, it costs twice as much to incarcerate someone as it does to educate someone. 

This makes incarceration both the more costly and the least effective option that does nothing to improve our communities. 

How could going 'beyond the box' affect our economy?

College graduates see 57% more job opportunities than non graduates. They also make, on average, $32K more a year than non graduates. As it stands, the US economy loses almost $2B per year due to barriers in employment for people with criminal records. The unemployment rate for formerly incarcerated people (FIP) is 27%, 5 times higher than the general population. Universities are only harming society by prohibiting people with criminal records to achieve an education, and, in turn, find meaningful and substantial employment. 

How does the criminal history box, in and of itself, work to discriminate against people with conviction histories?

The stigma that people with criminal histories carry is another form of public shaming–an outdated punishment mechanism from colonial times. 

As if incarceration–loss of autonomy, separation from family, and general trauma–weren't enough, society endows itself with the task of ostracizing people they identify as criminals.

This is through barriers to rehabilitative pathways such as stable housing, meaningful work, and an education. 

Do students support Beyond the Box?

welcomed the Beyond the Box team by hosting events, advocating on their campuses, and signing our petition. Students are the primary stakeholders in the Beyond the Box initiative.

 

Georgia State released a letter in support of Beyond the Box and student organizations have mobilized to educate their peers, administrators, and professors.

When asked, "Would you be comfortable attending class with someone who has a criminal record, 86.1% agreed. The remaining 13.9% were neutral, or indifferent.

University students across Georgia have joined the effort to remove the criminal history questions from applications.

Georgia State, Emory, Morehouse, Savannah State, Brewton-Parker, Valdosta State, and more have

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