The Clery Act
The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, codified at 20 USC 1092 (f) as a part of the Higher Education Act of 1965, is a federal law that requires colleges and universities to disclose certain timely and annual information about campus crime and security policies. All public and private institutions of postsecondary education participating in federal student aid programs are subject to it. Violators can be "fined" up to $25,000 by the U.S. Department of Education, the agency charged with enforcement of the Act and where complaints of alleged violations should be made, or face other enforcement action.
The Clery Act, originally enacted by the Congress and signed into law by President George Bush in 1990 as the Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act of 1990, was championed by Howard & Connie Clery after their daughter Jeanne was murdered at Lehigh University in 1986. They also founded the non-profit Security On Campus, Inc. in 1987. Amendments to the Act in 1998 renamed it in memory of Jeanne Clery.
Schools have to publish an annual report every year by October 1st that contains 3 years worth of campus crime statistics and certain security policy statements including sexual assault policies which assure basic victims' rights, the law enforcement authority of campus police and where students should go to report crimes. The report is to be made available automatically to all current students and employees while prospective students and employees are to be notified of its existence and afforded an opportunity to request a copy. Schools can comply using the Internet so long as the required recipients are notified and provided the exact Internet address where the report can be found and paper copies are available upon request. A copy of the statistics must also be provided to the U.S. Department of Education.
Each school must disclose crime statistics for the campus, unobstructed public areas immediately adjacent to or running through the campus, and certain non-campus facilities including Greek housing and remote classrooms. The statistics must be gathered from campus police or security, local law enforcement, and other school officials who have "significant responsibility for student and campus activities" such as student judicial affairs directors. Professional mental health and religious counselors are exempt from reporting obligations, but may refer patients to a confidential reporting system which the school has to indicate whether or not it has.
Crimes are reported in the following 7 major categories, with several sub-categories: 1.) Criminal Homicide broken down by a.) Murder and Nonnegligent Manslaughter and b.) Negligent manslaughter; 2.) Sex Offenses broken down by a.) Forcible Sex Offenses (includes rape) and b.) Nonforcible Sex Offenses; 3.) Robbery; 4.) Aggravated Assault; 5.) Burglary; 6.) Motor Vehicle Theft; and 7.) Arson.
Schools are also required to report the following three types of incidents if they result in either an arrest or disciplinary referral: 1.) Liquor Law Violations; 2.) Drug Law Violations; and 3.) Illegal Weapons Possession. If both an arrest and referral are made only the arrest is counted.
The statistics are also broken down geographically into "on campus," "residential facilities for students on campus," noncampus buildings, or "on public property" such as streets and sidewalks. Schools can use a map to denote these areas. The report must also indicate if any of the reported incidents, or any other crime involving bodily injury, was a "hate crime."
Access To Timely Information
Schools are also required to provide "timely warnings" and a separate more extensive public crime log. It is these requirements which are most likely to affect the day to day lives of students. The timely warning requirement is somewhat subjective and is only triggered when the school considers a crime to pose an ongoing "threat to students and employees" while the log records all incidents reported to the campus police or security department.
Timely warnings cover a broader source of reports (campus police or security, other campus officials, and off-campus law enforcement) than the crime log but are limited to those crime categories required in the annual report. The crime log includes only incidents reported to the campus police or security department, but covers all crimes not just those required in the annual report, meaning crimes like theft are included in the log. State crime definitions may be used.
Schools that maintain a police or security department are required to disclose in the public crime log "any crime that occurred on campus…or within the patrol jurisdiction of the campus police or the campus security department and is reported to the campus police or security department." The log is required to include the "nature, date, time, and general location of each crime" as well as its disposition if known. Incidents are to be included within two business days but certain limited information may be withheld to protect victim confidentiality, ensure the integrity of ongoing investigations, or to keep a suspect from fleeing. Only the most limited information necessary may be withheld and even then it must be released "once the adverse effect…is no longer likely to occur."
The log must be publicly available during normal business hours. This means that in addition to students and employees the general public such as parents or members of the local press may access it. Logs remain open for 60 days and subsequently must be available within 2 business days of a request.