Collins’ criminal justice reforms signed into law

CollinsApril2016Measures address expungement, park district employment and cost of inmate phone calls

CHICAGO – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) announced today that the governor has signed into law several pieces of legislation she sponsored that are part of a larger criminal justice reform agenda in Illinois. The measures help people have their arrest records expunged for crimes they did not commit, give park districts greater discretion to hire non-violent ex-offenders and cap the cost of inmate phone calls to keep family members affected by incarceration in touch with one another.

“By ending the practice of allowing for-profit contractors to charge exorbitant rates for inmate phone calls, we are enabling families to stay connected,” Collins said. “And by granting park districts discretion to hire more ex-offenders who have turned their lives around, we continue the process of opening up employment opportunities to a chronically unemployed sector of our population.”

Previously, state law prohibited a park district from hiring someone with a misdemeanor prostitution or public indecency conviction or a drug offense involving possession of 10 grams or more or sale of two or more grams – even when the person committed the crime as a juvenile. Senate Bill 3005, which Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago 14th) sponsored in the House, now removes this bar, allowing park districts to make their own hiring decisions based on a variety of factors instead of looking only at the applicant’s criminal background. It still bars individuals convicted as adults of more serious drug offenses (possession of at least 30 grams or sale of at least 10 grams) from being hired for seven years after the conviction, and it maintains the lifetime park district employment ban for those convicted of murder, assault, sexual assault or sexual abuse of a child.

House Bill 6200, sponsored in the House by Rep. Carol Ammons (D-Champaign) requires the Department of Corrections to contract with the vendor that offers the lowest rate for inmate phone calls, capped at seven cents per minute, by January 1, 2018.

House Bill 6328, which State Representative Art Turner (D-Chicago 9th) sponsored in the House, lifts a ban on expungement petitions by people with prior but unrelated criminal records, eliminates all fees for juveniles applying for expungements and waives fees for individuals in Cook County who were wrongfully arrested or convicted and now seek expungement.

“Step by step, we are dismantling a criminal justice system built for punishment and profit and rebuilding one designed for rehabilitation and the restoration of parts of the state ravaged by crime and mass incarceration alike,” Collins said. “Continued steps in this direction will give Illinois a fairer criminal justice system, but also stronger and more secure communities.”

Sen. Jacqueline Y. Collins

Deputy Majority Caucus Chair
16th Senate District

Years served:
2003 - Present

Committee assignments: Financial Institutions (Chairperson); Insurance; Transportation; Subcommittee on Capital (TR).

Biography: Born in McComb, Miss.; grew up in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago. Studied journalism at Northwestern University and graduated from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and Harvard Divinity Schoool. Emmy Award-nominated news editor at CBS-TV in Chicago and 2001 Legislative Fellow with U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Recipient in 2011 of a Lifetime Achievement Award for Financial Literacy Leadership from the Illinois state treasurer.

Associated Representatives:
Mary E. Flowers
André Thapedi