Safer Foundation Announces Support for Criminal Justice Reform in Illinois
Date:  04-30-2012

Removing barriers to employment and granting probation instead of prison are bills under consideration
Located in Chicago, the Safer Foundation states its mission is to “reduce recidivism by supporting, through a full spectrum of services, the efforts of people with criminal records to become employed, law-abiding members of the community.”

Long known to advocates for the formerly incarcerated, the Safer Foundation operates a 60-bed residential work release facility on behalf of the Illinois Department of Corrections ,and has been instrumental in aiding those with a criminal history find gainful employment.

The organization recently announced its support for bills now before the Illinois State Legislature. The bills, if passed, would provide significant relief to the overcrowded prison system, as well as save tax payers’ money. For those convicted of a crime, the ability to seal one’s record, or the removal of questions about an applicant’s criminal history on state job applications could be beneficial in finding employment. Other states might look to the pieces of legislation introduced in Illinois as a roadmap to bringing about reform in their areas. The bills include:

HB - 1205, CD COOR - RESIDENTIAL BURGLARY - amends the Unified Code of Corrections. Permits the court to sentence an offender who has been convicted of residential burglary to a period of probation, a term of periodic imprisonment, or conditional discharge. Chief Sponsor:Rep. Constance A. Howard.

HB - 1210, STATE EMPLOYMENT APPLICATION - removes the question of felony convictions from state of Illinois employment applications. Chief Sponsor: Rep. LaShawn Ford.

HB - 5723 - CRIM ID - FELONY SEALING - Allows a person to petition the court and the court to order the sealing of Class 2, 3, and 4 felony conviction records four years after termination of the person's last sentence. Chief Sponsor: Rep. Lashawn Ford.

HB - 5771 - CD CORR-GOOD CONDUCT & RELIEF- Amends the Unified Code of Corrections concerning certificates of good conduct and certificates of relief from disabilities. Provides that the certificate may be granted to an eligible offender who has demonstrated by a preponderance of the evidence (rather than by clear and convincing evidence) that he or she has been a law-abiding citizen and is fully rehabilitated. Chief Sponsor: Rep. Esther Golar.

SB - 3349 - CD CORR-INITIATIVE PROBATION - When a person pleads guilty to, or is found guilty of, a probationable felony offense of theft, retail theft, forgery, possession of a stolen motor vehicle, burglary, possession of a stolen motor vehicle, burglary, possession of burglary tools, possession of cannabis, possession of a controlled substance, or possession of methamphetamine, the court, with the consent of both the defendant and the State's Attorney, may, without entering a judgment, sentence the defendant to probation. Chief Sponsor: Sen. Kwame Raoul.