This post is part of a series recommending changes to how Minnesota handles criminal records and employment. The full report is here: Criminal Records and Employment in Minnesota.
Give notice to those intending to embark on studies leading to employment that they should consider any records of contacts with the police or criminal courts in career-planning.
It will be necessary to educate school administrators concerning collateral sanctions, to assist them in developing effective protocols for giving the relevant information to faculty and students, and to make certain that they provide the information effectively and consistently. While for-profit schools may be as interested as public schools in making sure their students do not waste time and money, it may be especially important to monitor their performance, given the possible loss in income that might result from giving effective notice.
The affected schools can be reached through the associations of administrators who lead them, and, in the case of for-profits, through the Office of Higher Education that is responsible for monitoring them. The Legislature may choose to enact statutory requirements concerning notice, or the schools might be charged with reporting their efforts in this area to the Department of Education or other appropriate agency, which will be responsible for assuring that notice procedures are adequate.
The Committee approved a sample notice to be used by post-secondary schools prior to a student’s final enrollment and maintained in individuals’ files. Notice could, of course, be given in many ways, but it is important to make sure that it is clearly understood and that there is proof that schools are providing the information.
Educate school administrators and counselors about collateral sanctions, so that they can provide students with sound advice about vocational courses and career planning.
MAKING COLLATERAL SANCTIONS EASY TO IDENTIFY
When we think about what a given individual would want to know about exactly how past arrests, charges and convictions will impact his life, it becomes apparent that we must collect and catalog collateral sanctions in such a way that people can locate them readily and get a realistic understanding of where they stand and what they might be able to do to improve their situations. At the very least, people have to be aware that criminal records, however minimal, may have serious consequences beyond criminal punishment. But when they are, they will want to have clear information that is not presently available. The 2005 Legislature’s decision to collect statutory sanctions in one chapter is a start, it is no more than that. At present, we can tell people to be aware that they may be barred from employment, but there is nowhere they can turn to get the details they need to make important decisions wisely, or to learn how to mitigate their problems. Until basic information is reasonably available, it is unfair to expect any institution or group of professionals to give individuals advice beyond a general warning.
The Committee is aware of at least one project to create a web-based database that would allow users to enter a Minnesota criminal statute number and receive information about collateral sanctions triggered by a conviction under that statute. It is hoped that some such computerized product will soon become available, after which it will be possible to determine the court rules and procedures necessary to provide defendants with the full notice of collateral sanctions that policy groups deem essential.