Thanks to your advocacy, four bills to increase jobs opportunities for men and women with criminal records are advancing with significant bi-partisan support through the Illinois General Assembly!
Community Renewal Society is part of the Restoring Rights and Opportunities Coalition of Illinois (RROCI), along with Cabrini Green Legal Aid, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, and Heartland Alliance. We believe:
1. Illinois needs a fair system of justice that recognizes human dignity
2. Regardless of their past, everyone deserves a meaningful future
3. Together, we can drive solutions with a community voice
For the past three years, RROCI has been leading efforts in the Illinois legislature to remove barriers to jobs for people with criminal records in health care facilities, schools and park districts. These industries play a significant role in our communities and offer a wide range of employment opportunities.
Passed the House 62-44-0 on April 22, 2016. HB 4515 is now in the Senate. Rep. Camille Lilly and Sen. Don Harmon are the Chief Sponsors of this bill.
CURRENTLY: Health care facilities, like nursing homes and long-term care facilities, cannot hire an applicant with a “disqualifying” criminal record unless the applicant is granted a waiver by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). Many people with a waiver, however, are still not getting jobs. Today, when an employer verifies an applicant's eligibility for employment, they see a red flag, even when a waiver has been granted.
HB 4515 improves the health care waiver process by making it clear on the Health Care Worker Registry that people who have obtained a waiver can be hired. This bill also removes low-level cannabis-related convictions (misdemeanors – under 10 grams) from the list of disqualifying offenses under Illinois law. Additionally, HB 4515 creates a work group to continue improvement of the waiver process and gather information about its effectiveness.
SB 42 – Support Job Opportunities in Health Care
Passed the Senate 48-6-0 on March 26, 2015. SB 42 is now in the House. Sen. Iris Martinez and Rep. Camille Lilly are the Chief Sponsors of this bill.
CURRENTLY: Health care professionals (like doctors, pharmacists, and occupational therapists) who have a forcible felony conviction cannot obtain a license, even if they meet all educational and training criteria. SB 42 addresses the unintended consequences of 2011 legislation that has meant the loss of quality jobs for a number of Illinoisans. Prior to that time, individuals with forcible felonies were successfully and safely licensed by the State in health professions.
SB 42 removes the lifetime barrier to a license for qualified health care professionals with a forcible felony conviction (excluding any sex offenses). It returns discretion to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation by prescribing a special review process that includes 15 factors that the Department must consider for each individual.
SB 3005 – Support Job Opportunities in Park Districts
Passed the Senate 34-14-0 on April 21, 2016. SB 3005 is now in the House. Sen. Jacqueline Collins and Rep. Kelly Cassidy are the Chief Sponsors of this bill.
CURRENTLY: Illinois law prohibits park districts from hiring qualified candidates with certain criminal convictions—regardless of how long ago those offenses occurred, the circumstances surrounding it or any other mitigating information. Local park districts do not have the discretion to make hiring decisions, looking at each individual and the needs of their community on a case-by-case basis.
SB 3005 removes the lifetime ban on working in park districts for people with drug convictions and instead imposes a 7 year waiting period after the end of sentence before these individuals can be hired. This bill also removes juvenile adjudications for drug offenses and a handful of misdemeanors from the list of offenses that are barred under the park district code (prostitution, public indecency, and low-level cannabis). Additionally, this bill recognizes Certificates of Good Conduct as a waiver to the employment barrier under the Park District Codes.
HB 4360 – Support Job Opportunities in Schools
Passed the House Passed 64-47-1 on April 12, 2016. HB 4360 is now in the Senate. Rep. Kelly Cassidy and Sen. Patricia Van Pelt are the Chief Sponsors of this bill.
CURRENTLY: It is illegal for schools to consider hiring people with non-violent drug related convictions and some misdemeanor charges – in any position – even if they want to. School administrators do not have local control to determine for themselves who they want to hire.
HB 4360 removes the lifetime ban from working in schools for people with drug convictions and instead creates a reasonable 7 year waiting period after the completion of the sentence before they are eligible to apply. This bill also removes a handful of misdemeanor offenses from the list of offenses barred under the school code (prostitution, public indecency, and low-level cannabis).
The Illinois General Assembly passed a similar bill, HB 494, with significant bi-partisan support in 2015. However, the Governor issued an amendatory veto that made technical, not substantive changes. HB 4360 includes the language recommended by the Governor in the amendatory veto of HB 494.
It is noteworthy that nothing in these bills require employers to hire an individual with a criminal record; it simply gives employers the discretion to make hiring decisions, looking at each individual and the needs of their community on a case-by-case basis.