Criminal Justice Public Hearing

On Thursday, August 23, at 9:30 am, Illinois State Rep. La Shawn K. Ford and the Small Business Committee will be holding a Subject Matter Public Hearing on the following two bills:

- HB 5723 (sealing criminal records), and – HB 1210 (banning the box that asks about criminal offenses on State of Illinois employment applications)

In this information age in which we live, everyone appears to be doing a background check — even landlords and educational institutions are using them to determine applicants’ eligibility. People with minor criminal records are finding 65% fewer employment opportunities than their mainstream counterparts. Although we hear a lot of rhetoric about strengthening the middle class or moving people from poverty to gainful employment, we don’t hear anything about giving people with criminal records the opportunity to do the same.

Do we intend to create a permanent under-class of under-employed or unemployed people? At what point, after having paid their debt to society, are people redeemed and granted ALL the rights of citizenship?

This Thursday, our state legislators will be hearing testimony from people impacted by criminal records, as well as citizens of conscience who have relevant stories to tell, in the hopes of passing the above legislation. This legislation provides a step toward economic self-sufficiency for those facing reentry into our communities. How do we move our society forward if we are dragging the weight of healthy and able-bodied men and women who want nothing more then the promise of opportunity that our great country touts around the globe?

Come out to the Bilandic Building, 160 N. La Salle Street in Chicago, and be heard.

Bring an official photo ID for access to the hearing room. For more information and ways to be involved, check out Rep. Ford’s website under upcoming events!

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