Tuesday at 12:41 pm
A way out of poverty: New Illinois law allows some felons to have their records sealed
"Rita Allison just wants to get back to work - without her felony convictions hanging over her head.
In the 1980s, Rita Allison shoplifted from a suburban department store. It happened so long ago that she doesn’t remember the name of the store, or what exactly it was she stole. But Allison, 55, said she was caught – and charged with six felony counts. The Chicago Reporter met Allison at a weekend forum on a new bill that may help some people with felony charges seal their records.
Her past shoplifting charges may be fading from Allison’s memory, but they are still on her rap sheet. When Allison applies for a job, she has to check the box indicating she has been convicted of a felony. More than 48,000 people are incarcerated in Illinois state prisons on felony convictions, according to the Illinois Department of Corrections. And when former Illinois prisoners are on the outside looking for a job, they’ll have to check the felony box as well.
The situation, though, may be looking brighter for some Illinois residents with felony convictions. On Aug. 2, Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law a bill, HB3061, which will allow individuals charged with retail theft, forgery or possession of cannabis, among other offenses, to apply to have their record sealed. It’s been a two-year process from when the bill was first introduced, failed to pass, and then re-introduced, said Rep. La Shawn K. Ford (IL-8th), lead sponsor of the bill."