College campus discrimination against applicants convicted of a felony

Jay Leiderman
By: Jay Leiderman
September 28 2016

College campus discrimination against applicants convicted of a felony

The Marshall Project


The Obstacle Course (“The country’s largest state university system says it doesn’t discriminate against former prison inmates. Applicants say otherwise.”)

As of 2018, students who apply to a two-year or four-year college within the State University System of New York will no longer have to disclose whether they have been convicted of a felony.

Felony vs. Misdemeanor

SUNY officials, who oversee the nation’s largest public university system, voted on Wednesday to “ban the box” on student applications that asks about criminal history. An internal memo outlining SUNY’s decision credited a 2015 analysis that found nearly two-thirds of applicants who disclosed having a felony record had dropped out of the application process.


When he checked the box on the New Paltz application owning up to his felony record, the demands began. The school wanted letters from the prison psychologist, the prison superintendent and his parole officer, and his full criminal record. Cadwallader replied that Mt. McGregor did not have a psychologist and that he never interacted with the superintendent. He submitted letters from his current psychologist, psychiatrist and parole officer, and braced for the screening committee. There, he says, he was grilled about his record — including arrests for misdemeanors and for charges that had been dismissed.


According to a forthcoming analysis of state records by the Center for Community Alternatives, an advocacy group that lobbies for alternatives to incarceration, about three out of five applicants with felony records drop out between application and admission, discouraged from pursuing an education that might equip them for a crime-free future. Among applicants without criminal records, the dropout rate is only about one in five, according to the report, believed to be the first such study of a major public university system.


10 thoughts on “College campus discrimination against applicants convicted of a felony

  1. This is all about the prison industrial complex and the need for society to keep someone down after they have paid their debt.

  2. Hello mates, how is everything, and what you want to say regarding this article, in my view its actually amazing for me.

  3. Contact
    Note: As of August 4, 2016, the mailing address for Matthew Keys has changed due to an ongoing legal issue. To read more about the legal issue, or to make a contribution to Matthew’s legal defense fund, click here.
    To send Matthew Keys letters after August 4, 2016 (handwritten or typed letters only):
    Matthew Keys #70041-097
    USP Atwater
    U.S. Penitentiary
    P.O. Box 019001
    Atwater, CA 95301
    Matthew can also receive hardcover books, magazines and newspaper subscriptions at the above address, but only if they are shipped directly from the publisher or a bookstore such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble (click here for Matthew’s public Amazon wish list). Matthew may receive softcover books at the above address from any source.
    Matthew also depends on direct financial contributions in order to maintain family and community ties and to continue his writing and reporting. Writing materials, envelopes, postage stamps, call credits and e-mail credits all come at significant costs. To make a financial contribution to continue Matthew’s work, send a money order (no cash or personal checks) in any amount in the name of Matthew Keys #74001-097 to the following address:
    Federal Bureau of Prisons
    Matthew Keys
    Register #74001-097
    Post Office Box 474701
    Des Moines, Iowa 50947-0001
    For more information on sending mail, packages, money (Western Union, MoneyGram) or other methods of getting in touch with Matthew after August 4, 2016, click here.
    Matthew Keys also depends on the continued advocacy of his supporters in resolving and rectifying his ongoing legal issue. Those who wish to voice their support for Matthew may do so in one of the following ways:
    Contact his attorneys Tor Ekeland at or Jay Leiderman at
    Contact his elected representatives (accurate as of August 3, 2016 — for an updated list, click here):
    Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA) at 707-438-1822
    Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) at 415 393-0707
    Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) at 916-448-2787
    Contact your federal elected official — for a complete list, click here.
    Contact the White House comment line at 202-456-1111 or by e-mail here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *