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Illinois Legislation Will Give Thousands of Individuals with Criminal Records a Second Chance

June 3, 2014
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Michelle Nicolet
312.368.2675

Illinois Legislation Will Give Thousands of Individuals
with Criminal Records a Chance to
Take Care of Themselves and Their Loved Ones

Chicago-- Currently, 92% of employers conduct criminal background checks on applicants, and 65% of them reject applicants with even on conviction of any kind. Similarly, 43% of landlords report that they are “inclined” to reject applicants with just one criminal conviction of any kind. Given this reality, millions of men and women with criminal records in Illinois are functionally rendered unable to keep food on their table and a roof over their children’s head. Two bills recently passed by the Illinois legislature are just a governor’s signature away from changing that for hundreds of thousands of hard-working men and women throughout Illinois. Specifically,

  • HB 2378 allows hard-working, law-abiding individuals a chance to ask the courts to consider sealing older, minor, low-level offenses (misdemeanors), and
  • HB 5701, the Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act, ensures that qualified applicants with criminal records aren't denied jobs by removing the "have you ever been convicted of a crime" check box from the initial employment application for private employers.

The Shriver Center’s Community Justice Unit, supported by a coalition of advocates and community members, led the effort to advocate for both bills.

“This legislation puts Illinois in the vanguard on policies designed to help individuals with criminal records access employment and housing that they would otherwise be denied,” said Carol Ashley, Vice President for Advocacy at the Shriver Center. With the passage of HB 5701, Illinois becomes only the third state to “ban the box” for private employment applications, and HB 2378 is expected to assist over 200,000 men and women throughout Illinois with old, misdemeanor convictions. 

“People who have worked hard to turn their lives around deserve an opportunity for a second chance,” said Todd Belcore, lead attorney in the Community Justice Unit at the Shriver Center. “We encourage the governor to sign this important legislation.”

The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law provides national leadership in advancing laws and policies that secure justice to improve the lives and opportunities of people living in poverty. We specialize in practical solutions. Through policy development, advocacy, litigation, consulting, training, and communications, we are building the national capacity of people living in poverty by representing them directly and by supporting and enhancing the capacity of other public interest lawyers who serve them. For more information, visit http://povertylaw.org.

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The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law provides national leadership in advancing laws and policies that secure justice to improve the lives and opportunities of people living in poverty. We specialize in practical solutions. We advocate for and serve clients directly, while also building the capacity of the nation’s legal aid providers to advance justice and opportunity for their clients. www.povertylaw.org

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