State Senator Collins Boosts Second Chance Employment Options
Legislation gives park districts discretion to hire some ex-offenders
edited by Kai EL’ Zabar
In April State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) secured passage of legislation that allows park districts to give ex-offenders a job and a second chance.
“The state shouldn’t ban park districts from hiring men and women who have criminal records but have turned their lives around and are seeking to provide for themselves and their families,” Collins said. “These employers are capable of exercising their discretion, evaluating the record, skills and experience of an applicant and making a hiring decision that benefits the public and, if they so choose, gives someone a second chance.”
Currently, state law prohibits any 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. Collins’ legislation 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. If signed into law, the measure would still bar 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 by a park district for seven years after the conviction. Collins’ proposal would maintain the lifetime park district employment ban for those convicted of murder, assault, sexual assault or sexual abuse of a child.
“Until we slow the rate of recidivism, we will continue investing in prisons instead of investing in struggling communities,” Collins said. “And the most powerful weapon against the cycle of repeat offenses is the opportunity for a second chance.”
This effort along with others will work to change the repeat offenders and lower the crime rate in the underserved communities affected by these infections the most.
Senate Bill 3005 next goes to the House for its consideration.