The federal government wants colleges to limit questions about applicants' criminal records

Los Angeles Times

U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. wants colleges to stop asking applicants about their criminal histories early in the admissions process, he will announce at UCLA on Monday. Asking applicants for information about their criminal history can prevent them from finishing their applications, King says. Because a disproportionate number of people who have been charged with crimes are people of color, the U.S. Department of Education says, these questions increase the barriers disadvantaged students face when seeking an education. "We believe in second chances and we believe in fairness," King said in a statement. "We must ensure that more people ... have the chance at higher education opportunities."

Drivers given taxi licences despite criminal convictions

BBC News

Hundreds of taxi drivers have been granted licences despite declaring criminal convictions for sex offences, burglary and assault, figures show. Six councils in north-west England granted or renewed permits for more than 300 convicted drivers since 2012. The mother of a Salford student killed by a man posing as a taxi driver said it was "clearly wrong" to give licences to sex offenders. MP Andrew Gwynne has called for current legislation to be tightened. The Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA) said granting licences to convicted drivers was "putting the public at risk".

"Ban the Box" Helps Ex-Cons Find Work, but May Hurt Prospects for Law-Abiding Blacks

Mother Jones

As a bipartisan consensus on the need for criminal justice reform has solidified in recent years, one of the changes advocates have pushed for is "banning the box"--that is, removing from job applications the box people must check if they have had a felony conviction. Ban-the-box laws don't prevent employers from asking applicants about a criminal record, but rather delay the questioning until later in the process, after an applicant has made it past that first hurdle. The idea is that applicants with criminal records can then get an honest opportunity for consideration, as opposed to being eliminated from the get-go. Ban the box has also been touted by civil rights groups as a way to reduce unemployment among young black men (who disproportionately have criminal records) and thereby to lessen the racial employment gap. Twenty-three states have passed ban-the-box laws that apply to public employers, while nine also apply the policy to private employers.

This new law might put your medical marijuana dispensary out of business

Los Angeles Times

In 2001, Steve DeAngelo agreed to help a friend by attending the delivery of nearly 200 pounds of marijuana in a Maryland trailer park and verifying the quality of the product. In exchange, DeAngelo said he would get 10 pounds of the cannabis that he planned to distribute to medical marijuana patients in that state, where he lived at the time. Instead, the police swooped in, and DeAngelo ended up convicted of felony possession of marijuana with intent to sell. Fifteen years later, DeAngelo runs what may be the largest medical marijuana dispensary in the U.S., but a new law says he will have to get a state license by 2018 -- and the state can reject applications from those with drug felonies on their records. DeAngelo, whose Harborside Health Center in Oakland has annual sales of 30 million, plans to go through the appeal process.

Pot Legalization Is Transforming California's Criminal Justice Landscape. Here's How.

Mother Jones

You've probably already heard legal weed is coming to California in 2018. Actually, possession of an ounce or less and private recreational use both became legal in November 2016, when Golden State voters approved Proposition 64--the law also allows for legal possession of eight grams of marijuana concentrates and private cultivation of up to six plants per residence. Possession of small amounts has been a ticket-only offense since 2011. But bigger changes kick in on January 1. That's when California joins Alaska, Colorado, DC, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington as the sixth state to begin licensing local businesses to sell pot to anyone 21 and up--also the legal age for tobacco and alcohol products.