Text Size
Login
config

Senate gives nod to greater opportunity in licensed professions

raoul cps 051816Legislation would loosen ban on ex-offenders in barbering, roofing and funeral services

SPRINGFIELD — State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) secured the Senate’s approval today for a measure that would open up several licensed professions to some ex-offenders at the discretion of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. Individuals who have committed misdemeanors and non-violent felonies unrelated to their chosen professions would be eligible to earn licenses to be barbers, roofers or funeral directors – and the department would be required to consider mitigating factors such as how long ago the crime occurred, the applicant’s age at the time and whether the offense would have any bearing on the person’s ability to do the job in question.

“So many occupations in Illinois require licenses that a blanket ban presents a significant and unjustified barrier to employment and self-sufficiency and ultimately increases the risk of recidivism,” said Raoul, who served on the governor’s Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform. The Commission recommended a critical reexamination of laws that mandate the denial of a professional license to someone with past criminal convictions.

In Illinois, 24 percent of the workforce must have a state-issued occupational or professional license in order to work, and current state law stipulates that the state either may or must deny 118 types of licenses to applicants with criminal records. Thirty-nine percent of Illinois adults have a criminal history that could exclude them from some jobs or licenses.

“When men and women are released from prison in Illinois and find that they can no longer practice an occupation they are trained to do, the state is depriving them – essentially without due process – of their ability to support themselves, meet financial obligations such as child support and take pride in their work,” Raoul said. “This legislation gives the licensing authority broad discretion to consider each applicant on a case-by-case basis and make a decision that benefits the profession and the economy instead of enforcing a one-size-fits-all ban that doesn’t make the public any safer.”

House Bill 5973 now goes back to the House for concurrence in changes the Senate made to the measure.

Sen. Kwame Raoul

Senator Kwame Raoul

13th District

Years served: 2004 - 2018

Committee assignments: Criminal Law (Vice-Chairperson); Judiciary (Chairperson); Public Health; Committee of the Whole; Energy and Public Utilities; Executive; Committee on Restorative Justice (Co-Chairperson).

Biography: Attorney; born September 30, 1964; Bachelor's degree from DePaul University; J.D. from Chicago-Kent College of Law; has two children.