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High Hurdle To College For Ex-offenders

By: Robert Lewis

After years in and out of jail, Thomas Onaje Benjamin turned his life around, earning multiple degrees and getting a good job running the re-entry program at the Dutchess County jail. There he preaches the transformative power of education. But Benjamin said there are hurdles for people like him — right there on most college applications.

“I just graduated from Fordham. I spent three years and $65,000 to get a masters degree and it’s my second masters degree and there was a box on Fordham’s application,” Benjamin said.

That box is the one asking if he’d ever been convicted of a crime. More than half the colleges in the country ask that question on their application, according to a recent study by the Center for Community Alternatives, a nonprofit that looked at admissions policies across the country for people with criminal records.

Benjamin is part of a growing chorus of advocates who want to ban the box for college admissions. It’s similar to a movement that took hold in employment…

Originally posted on WNYC

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