FORCE (Fighting to Overcome Records and Create Equality) is an initiative of Community Renewal Society, led by people with records, their families, and faith allies who organize to create change and justice for people with records. By coming together, we can change the systems which seek to keep us and our communities imprisoned.
Who is FORCE?
FORCE leaders come from all across the Chicago metropolitan area. Some of us have been out of prison for many years, and some are recently returning citizens. We are African-American, Latino, Arab, Asian, and white. We are men and women. We are united in standing against discrimination based on past records and in our belief that all people deserve opportunities for decent employment, housing, and education.
What does FORCE do?
- Builds relationships. FORCE leaders and organizers build relationships with and among people with records across the Chicago metropolitan area. Through one-on-ones and house meetings, we learn each other's stories and identify the most pressing issues to address.
- Develops leaders. We believe that people with records should play a central role in the issues that affect us. Therefore, FORCE leaders build public skills through the CRS Three Day Organizing Training, individual mentoring, and skill building workshops.
- Takes Action. FORCE builds powerful campaigns to change the systems that attempt to keep people with records, our families, and communities imprisoned.
FORCE, along with the Restoring Rights and Opportunities Coalition of Illinois (RROCI), is working to pass legislation that would create more transparency and fairness in the background check process for employment and housing, two of the most pressing and fundamental human rights. RROCI will also work to pass an expanded sealing bill and FORCE will identify another local campaign to work on. We will continue to oppose legislation that creates new mandatory minimums and sentence enhancements.
RROCI fact sheets:
Note: these are living documents that we will update every week as we add co-sponsors, endorsing organizations, and refine our talking points.
Employment laws have changed! If you have a past felony conviction, doors have opened to work in Illinois schools, park districts, and health care facilities. If you are still being denied the opportunity to work in these fields, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 2016, FORCE helped to led the passage of four bills in the Illinois General Assembly that would remove lifetime barriers to employment for people with records in Illinois health care facilities (HB 4515 & SB 42), park districts (SB 3005) and schools (HB 4360) along with our partners in the Restoring Rights and Opportunities Coalition of Illinois (RROCI). Learn more >
Removing barriers for people with criminal records align with the recommendation of the bi-partisan, bi-cameral Inventorying Employment Restrictions Task Force to re-consider all life-time bars to employment due to the potential risk of violating federal anti-discrimination laws. These changes would promote self-sufficiency by allowing hardworking men and women to apply for jobs from which they are currently barred due to past mistakes and reduce recidivism—making our communities safer, saving taxpayers money, and allowing employers to determine for themselves who they want to hire.
Read more about the issues that impact FORCE leaders in The Chicago Reporter's Reforms Target Job Barriers for Ex-Offenders.
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