PEORIA, IL – State Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, D-Peoria, is working to help people receive a second chance and get better jobs by passing bipartisan legislation out of the House Judiciary-Criminal Committee that would remove a common roadblock that stops ex-offenders from sealing and expunging old criminal records.
“Last year our Expungement Summit helped hundreds of people through the process of expunging and sealing their criminal records,” Gordon-Booth said. “Unfortunately, a large majority of these people had their expungement application denied because they had outstanding court fines. This action perpetuates the cycle caused by poverty and criminal history, because these individuals do not have a chance to find a better job once their record is sealed and have the money to pay back those fees.”
From this experience working with individuals who sought to expunge their records, Gordon-Booth introduced House Bill 5341 or the Fair Access To Employment (F.A.T.E.) Act. After completing a lengthy expungement or sealing application, it then needs to be approved by the state’s attorney, prosecutor, the Illinois State Police and the arresting agency. Under this legislation, the approval process remains the same, however, none of these agencies are allowed to object because of outstanding fines, assessments or court fees.
“Everyone deserves a second chance,” Gordon-Booth added. “People trying to expunge and seal their records are doing so because they are trying to build a better life for themselves and their families. This legislation simply removes an immediate roadblock, to allow people to find a higher-paying job that would allow them to pay back fines in full. These individuals want to turn over a new leaf and this is a simple way to help them do that.”
In addition to receiving bipartisan support in committee, House Bill 5341 received overwhelming support from organizations and agencies across the state. Gordon-Booth will be having a press conference to discuss this legislation and her 2018 Expungement Summit on Monday, April 16 at 1:30 p.m. at the Peoria NAACP Office, located at 101 MacArthur Highway, Peoria.