Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner signed several criminal justice bills on Monday.
Among them is legislation to remove employment barriers for people with criminal records in certain occupations that require licenses.
The measure covers the industries of barbering, hair braiding, nail technology, esthetics, cosmetology and roof and funeral services.
According to the Safer Foundation, which advocated for the legislation, the new law “establishes rehabilitative review criteria for the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) to follow when receiving licensing applications of people who have convictions that are directly related to the practice of a specific occupation. In this way, the bill limits discretionary license denial and provides due process.”
The U.S. Justice Action Network also lauded Rauner for signing the occupational licensing reform measure, which takes effect January 1. Here is the group’s statement:
During a time when Illinois taxpayers are stretched thin, we applaud Gov. Rauner for signing a bill that gets government out of the way and puts people back to work. When individuals with records have more access to employment opportunities, they are less likely to return to crime, end up behind bars, and become the taxpayers’ burden. Gov. Rauner and justice reform champions on the other side of the aisle, such as Sen. Kwame Raoul, are wisely on the same side of the vast majority of Illinois voters. A recent poll by our bipartisan organization showed 94% of Illinois voters support this type of policy and stronger reentry practices, and we expect the state to continue down a path of reform.
The governor’s office provided details on five other criminal justice bills Rauner signed into law Monday:
SB 3164 requires review of a pre-sentencing report, as well as an explanation of why incarceration is appropriate for offenders with no prior probation sentences or prison convictions prior to sentencing. Last year, nearly 60 percent of new prison admissions for Class 3 or 4 felonies had no prior convictions for violent crimes. Sending low-level offenders with no prior probation or other convictions inefficiently uses prison resources and potentially makes low-level offenders more susceptible to reoffending. This legislation was sponsored by Sen. Michael Connelly and Rep. Brian Stewart and was a recommendation made by the Governor’s Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform.
HB 6291 amends the Juvenile Court Act to change the minimum probation period for a youth adjudicated delinquent. The purpose of the bill is to help bring Illinois in line with other states and the latest research by reducing mandatory minimum lengths of probation and treating low level offenses with treatment. This ensures that youth struggling with addictions will have the opportunity to go through the treatment process before being sent to prison.
HB 5017 allows a juvenile to immediately petition the court for expungement when he or she is charged with an offense that is dismissed without a finding of delinquency. Under current law, the statute only allows for a petition of expungement when the youth has reached the age of 18. This bill will help youth who were arrested but not charged get a fresh start and clear their names.
HB 6200 addresses per minute rates of phone calls for inmates. The bill reduces the rate that the Illinois Department of Corrections and the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice can contract for telephone providers.
SB 3005 amends the Park District Code to provide that a park district shall not knowingly employ a person who has been convicted of specified drug offenses until seven years following the end of a sentence imposed including periods of supervision or probation. The previous law stated that park districts could not employ any person convicted of the specified drug offenses. It furthermore scales pack prohibitions on employment for convictions of public indecency to Class 4 felonies.
“We need to approach our criminal justice system with more compassion,” Rauner said in a statement. “I want those who did something wrong to face punishment, but we must make sure that the punishment fits the crime. We need to explore new avenues so that we’re balancing punishment with rehabilitation and not needlessly tearing families and lives apart.”