Victory! Groundbreaking Sealing Expansion Bill Signed into Law

“Finally, I can have an opportunity to provide for my family and show society I am rehabilitated,” said Karlos Lloyd, a FORCE leader with Community Renewal Society who will be personally impacted by the bill. “Now I can be a role model and father figure to many young people who have doubted the system of rehabilitation.” Karlos traveled to Springfield eight times this session to advocate for HB 2373 and testified before the Senate Criminal Law Committee.

On August 24, 2017, Governor Rauner signed HB 2373, which creates better opportunities for people with criminal records by expanding the number of convictions that are eligible to be sealed under Illinois law. This legislation makes Illinois the nation’s leader in removing collateral consequences for people impacted by the criminal system and focuses on reducing recidivism to ensure that Illinois families can achieve positive outcomes associated with stable housing, access to employment and educational options.

In Illinois, an estimated 45% of adults have some sort of criminal record. People with criminal records are routinely denied opportunities for quality jobs, safe housing, and education. By expanding eligibility for sealing, HB 2373 will help Illinoisans with a criminal record reach their full potential. Sealing allows people to petition the court to remove records from public view and have an individualized decision made by a judge.

“I have been partnering with the Restoring Rights and Opportunities Coalition of Illinois (RROCI) and colleagues on both sides of the aisle for years to help fix our broken system of collateral consequences for those with criminal records,” said Representative Camille Lilly, who championed the bill. "This bill shows huge progress in that work and will mean more opportunity for jobs, housing, and education for thousands of Illinoisans.”

Under HB 2373, most records can now be sealed. This marks a big shift in allowing people to move beyond their past. A limited number of convictions that were previously listed as an exception will remain ineligible for sealing, which include: records related to driving under the influence, domestic violence, harm to animals, and sexual assault. Before today, Illinois law allowed for only nine convictions to be sealed.

“As the leading organization that helps people seal their criminal record, we anticipate that this law will change the futures for thousands of individuals who felt there was no hope,” said Beth Johnson, Legal Director of Cabrini Green Legal Aid.

Senator Don Harmon, who sponsored the bill in the Senate, said, “Illinois’s sealing process is widely recognized by advocates and law enforcement alike as an important tool for creating opportunity. Expanding it is the right thing to do. I am proud to have sponsored HB 2373.”

The bill was one of a number of bills signed today that will improve the lives for people who interact with the criminal justice system. According to Governor Rauner, “Signing HB 2373 is another important step forward in our ongoing effort to make Illinois’ criminal justice system more efficient and effective. This law will help people with criminal records obtain jobs, safe housing, and high-quality education, thereby reducing the likelihood of re-incarceration.”

As people of faith, we seek to express and embody God’s reconciling love. Public Act 100-0284, which is effective immediately, will create better opportunities for thousands of Illinoisans by sealing their criminal record from public view. This is the largest sealing expansion that Illinois or any other state has every passed.

Thank you for your tireless advocacy and trips to Springfield, emails, phone calls, and in-district meetings with your legislators!

Thank you to our sponsors, Rep. Camille Lilly and Sen. Don Harmon, as well as our partners in the Restoring Rights and Opportunities Coalition of Illinois (RROCI): the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Cabrini Green Legal Aid, and Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights. RROCI is committed to solutions driven by a community voice and believes that Illinois needs a fair system of justice that recognizes human dignity and that everyone deserves a meaningful future.

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