CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today issued an administrative order that prohibits state agencies under his jurisdiction from asking job applicants about their criminal history before beginning to evaluate the individual’s knowledge, skills and abilities. One in four adults have a criminal record that may show up on a routine background check. The announcement is part of Governor Quinn’s commitment to making Illinois government more accountable, transparent and effective and ensuring all workers are treated fairly.
“A law-abiding citizen’s past mistakes should not serve as a lifetime barrier to employment,” Governor Quinn said. “Creating opportunities for ex-offenders to obtain gainful employment and reach their full potential as a member of society is one of the most effective tools for reducing recidivism. As we know, the best tool to reduce poverty, drive down crime and strengthen the economy is a job.”
More than 50 jurisdictions across the United States and ten states have adopted policies to “ban the box,” according to the National Employment Law Project. The Administrative Order instructs the Department of Central Management Services (CMS) – the state agency responsible for receiving job applications and administering the state’s personnel policies – to issue new guidelines for screening candidates for jobs in agencies, boards and commissions under the Governor’s jurisdiction. It does not prevent these entities from performing background checks or requiring drug-testing when such provisions are relevant to a position’s duties.
“Hiring managers will now have the opportunity to learn of a candidate’s skills and qualifications before making a decision based on their history,” CMS Director Malcolm Weems said. “CMS will work diligently to carry out the reforms that are spelled out in Governor Quinn’s Administrative Order.”
Governor Quinn has been joined by legislators, including State Representative La Shawn Ford (D-Chicago), in the call for common-sense policies that make it possible for ex-offenders to have a second chance and become productive members of the state.
Earlier this year, Governor Quinn signed several pieces of legislation to give ex-offenders a second chance at employment and a productive life, while offering prosecutors and judges more sentencing options for non-violent offenders to help reduce the risk of repeat offenses. The new laws are also intended to streamline the criminal record expungement process. These include:
- Senate Bill 1659, sponsored by State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) and State Representative Arthur Turner (D-Chicago), which increases the income tax credit for those who hire qualified ex-offenders from a cap of $600 to a maximum of $1,500 per employee. It also allows the tax credit to be valid if an ex-offender is hired within three years of being released from incarceration, rather than the current deadline of one year. The tax credit may be taken for up to five years.
- House Bill 3010, sponsored by State Representative Tom Cross (R-Oswego) and State Senator Linda Holmes (D-Aurora), creates a “second chance probation” option for non-violent offenders which allows a conviction to be cleared from a defendant’s record after successfully completing at least a two-year period of probation. This sentencing option gives prosecutors and judges more leeway in dealing with certain offenses. It also offers offenders a chance to keep one brush with the law from becoming a permanent stain on their records. The law takes effect January 1, 2014.
- House Bill 2470, sponsored by Representative Turner and State Senator Kimberly Lightford (D-Westchester), which streamlines the criminal record expungement and sealing process. The new law ensures that motions to expunge or seal criminal records are heard in a timely manner. It also ensures that if a judge rules in the defendant’s favor, that ruling is delivered promptly to the proper authorities.
To learn more about job opportunities with the State of Illinois, please visit Work.Illinois.gov.
Administrative Order 2013-1 (PDF)