Clery Act Fines Increase Per Violation
Clery Act fines have more than doubled from their original amount, to $54,789 per violation, following the latest announcement by the Department of Education in April.
The fines apply to violations that occurred after Nov. 2, 2015 that were assessed after April 20, 2017.
The penalty increase follows a review by the Dept. of Ed. to ensure the fines “maintain their deterrent value” and adjust for inflation, as required by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990. The Dept. of Ed.’s Office for Civil Rights, or OCR, enforces the Clery Act.
Clery Act fines were originally $25,000 per violation but have increased periodically from $27,500 to $35,000 and then $53,907, according to Campus Security Consultant S. Daniel Carter.
The last increase before the April announcement was through an interim final rule (IFR) that listed an initial “catch up” adjustment on Aug. 1, 2016. The Dept. of Ed. noted in its latest fine adjustment statement that it received no public comments on that IFR.
Campus Safety regularly reports on fines in response to Clery Act violations. The largest ever Clery Act fine of $2.4 million was given to Penn State University last year in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal. Penn State did not appeal that fine.
The Clery Act requires colleges and universities to report crime statistics and mandates certain actions be taken by campus officials during emergencies and in cases of alleged sexual violence.
The controversial law has forced institutions of higher education to channel resources into meeting its requirements. At the 2015 Campus Safety Conference, Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill said she supported completely repealing the Clery Act, a sentiment since echoed by other lawmakers.
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I feel my school is in violation of the Clery Act, in that they withhold critical identification information from the public. In their reporting of suspect descriptions, they deliberately exclude a description of the suspects’ race or ethnicity (perhaps for fear of reprisals, accusations of profiling, etc.), but all it does is keep the public from helping identify and protect themselves from the perpetrators. They almost always give height, sex, and even detailed clothing descriptions–but withhold racial descriptions given by witnesses, some of whom had conversations with the suspects. This seems to be a very dangerous practice. I have repeatedly sent my school my concerns and have been met with silence. 1) Do you agree this is a violation, and 2) Is there somewhere I can report it?
Where do I report violations of the Clery Act by my university? There appears to be no enforcement. Our campus police and dispatch were unaware of what the Clery Act was when I tried to report. They referred me to the County Sheriff….who said they weren’t the right authority and referred me to City police….who also weren’t the right authority because this was a crime against a student that occurred on campus. Our university is systematically turning away those seeking to report sexual assault and harassment on campus. What body enforces this Act?