Background checks do not accurately predict college crime

In an effort to make college campuses safer for students, college officials have taken several steps, including screening potential students for criminal records. While universities across the U.S. have begun to ask applicants about criminal histories or to conduct background checks on applicants during the admissions process, a study released in February 2013 revealed that these background checks do not identify those who are most likely to commit crime if admitted.

Background checks do not reduce campus crime

Researchers surveyed 6,972 students of a large university in the southern U.S., asking about criminal activities prior to and during college. The questions focused on what the researchers considered "serious" offenses, such as marijuana use or other drug offenses, assault, property crimes, driving under the influence and robbery. Researchers then compared the results of the survey with the screening questions the university used during the application process.

Researchers found that the screening questions were an ineffective method of predicting who would commit crimes while attending school. While those with criminal records prior to coming to college were more likely to commit another offense during their time in college, the screening questions were unlikely to detect those people. Of the students surveyed with criminal records before coming to the university, only 3.3 percent of them had reported the information on their applications.

Past record no indicator of future activity

One of the most important findings of the study was the fact that only 8.5 percent of those with criminal records before entering college were charged with another crime while attending college. This means that having a criminal record before attending college does not automatically mean that a student will commit another crime in the future. In fact, the low number of those with criminal records prior to entering college who went on to face criminal charges while attending college shows that many students do not continue the behaviors that got them in trouble in the first place.

Talk to an attorney

Having a criminal record can cause a host of difficulties for a person. While it may not keep a person from attending college, some offenses can make it impossible for a person to obtain federal student loans. A criminal record can also create problems in the future when a person is applying for jobs or looking for housing. Those facing criminal charges should consult with a skilled criminal defense attorney who can help mitigate the damage that such charges can cause in a person's life.