Easter is not only about Christ’s resurrection, it’s also about redemption, hope, and grace. In this Easter season, FORCE (Fighting to Overcome Records and Create Equality) leaders are spearheading advocacy efforts for thousands of people with criminal records, working to assure they will have the opportunity to be considered for jobs in their communities. HB 494, which is currently pending before the Illinois House, would remove the life-time hiring bans in schools for men and women with past drug convictions who have turned their lives around.
FORCE leader Floyd Stafford recently testified about the need for second chances before the House Elementary and Secondary Education: School Curriculum and Policies Committee. Floyd said, “My past mistakes don’t define me; my life is more about what I’ve done since I’ve been released and not so much as what I’ve done in the past.”
Floyd also gave compelling testimony about why he is uniquely qualified to work with students: “I could be used as a change agent in the local schools and I could do my part in encouraging and challenging the students to follow their dreams, and help them avoid the school to prison pipeline. Who better to assist and inform the students of negative influences of street life than someone like myself.”
Thanks to Floyd’s testimony and your calls on March 25 to members of the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee, HB 494 passed this committee 16-4!
Help us keep the momentum going before the next crucial deadline.
Members of the Illinois General Assembly are returning to Springfield this week from Spring Break. HB 494 must pass out of the House by the Third Reading Deadline on next Friday, April 24, 2015. FORCE leaders and other criminal justice community leaders are headed to Springfield tomorrow to meet with legislators about HB 494. You can support their efforts.
FORCE’s work to remove life-time bars is another sign of Easter’s hope and new life.