When a person is convicted of a crime, the consequences typically go far beyond jail time, probation, and fines. A conviction can and usually will follow a person for the rest of his or her life, making it more difficult for the individual to find a job, secure affordable housing, or qualify for certain educational programs. While this is certainly a problem everywhere, lawmakers in Illinois have taken steps toward giving ex-offenders a second chance by passing new measures designed to make it easier for them to find gainful employment. According to reports from around the state, the measures are starting to work as planned.
Several Important Changes
In recent years, Illinois lawmakers have enacted a few different laws that increase opportunities for ex-offenders. One such law was signed by Governor Bruce Rauner in August 2017 . The measure expanded the list of offenses that are eligible for record sealing and eliminated waiting periods for record-sealing petitions after an acquittal or dropped charges. When a record is sealed, it is no longer visible on most background checks, so expanding and speeding up the record-sealing program has been a welcome change.
A year earlier, Governor Rauner signed a separate measure that addressed occupations requiring a license. Licensed professionals, including barbers, cosmetologists, funeral directors, roofers, and dozens of others can no longer be denied a license simply on the basis of having prior convictions. A license can still be denied if the conviction was “directly related” to the occupation in question, but even then, an offender can offer proof of rehabilitation and be reconsidered for the license.
Jobs Reduce Recidivism
Johnny Taylor is the president and CEO of the Society for Human Resources Management, a group that encourages employers to consider ex-offenders when hiring. Taylor pointed out that the falling rate of unemployment means that there are often not many applicants for a given opening. As a result, “no one will have the luxury of not at least considering [ex-offenders],” he said. He also said that many companies are hiring ex-offenders loudly and proudly while others do so quietly to aid in diversity initiatives.
Perhaps more importantly, however, is the idea that worthwhile employment can keep offenders from returning to a destructive lifestyle. “Housing, education, job opportunities are all basic needs,” said Sakira Cook, an attorney with the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “If the needs are met, then the likelihood of someone engaging in criminal behavior is reduced.”
We Can Help
If you have been convicted of a crime in the past and are looking to get a clean start, contact an experienced Joliet expungement and record sealing attorney . At the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba, we are fully up to date on all of the applicable laws, and we can help you explore your options for getting the second chance you deserve. Call 815-740-4025 for a free consultation today.