The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act is the landmark federal law, originally known as the Campus Security Act, that requires colleges and universities across the United States to disclose information about crime on and around their campuses.
Federal Law Mandates Compliance with the Clery Act
Because the law is tied to participation in federal student financial aid programs it applies to most institutions of higher education both public and private. It is enforced by the U.S. Department of Education.
The "Clery Act" is named in memory of 19 year old Lehigh University freshman Jeanne Ann Clery who was raped and murdered while asleep in her residence hall room on April 5, 1986.
Jeanne's parents, Connie and Howard, discovered that students hadn't been told about 38 violent crimes on the Lehigh campus in the three years before her murder. They joined with other campus crime victims and persuaded Congress to enact this law, which was originally known as the "Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act of 1990."
The law was amended in 1992 to add a requirement that schools afford the victims of campus sexual assault certain basic rights, and was amended again in 1998 to expand the reporting requirements. The 1998 amendments also formally named the law in memory of Jeanne Clery.
The law was most recently amended in 2000 to require schools beginning in 2003 to notify the campus community about where public "Megan's Law" information about registered sex offenders on campus could be obtained.
The Clery Act, originally enacted by the Congress and signed into law by President George Bush in 1990 as the Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act of 1990, was championed by Howard & Connie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.
Crimes are reported in the following 7 major categories, with several sub-categories: 1.) Criminal Homicide broken down by a.) Murder and Non-negligent Manslaughter and b.) Negligent manslaughter; 2.) Sex Offenses broken down by a.) Forcible Sex Offenses (includes rape) and b.) Non-forcible 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," non-campus 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
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.