Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Illinois Removes A Roadblock on the Road To Rehabilitation for Convicted Felons

Public Act 97-1113 went into effect on January 1, 2013, in the state of Illinois. It states that the time frame a convicted felon must wait after completion of his sentence before applying for a Certificate of Good Conduct or a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities has been reduced from three (3) years to two (2) years. This law also allows a person who was convicted of a felony more than twice to receive these certificates, as well as a person residing in Illinois who was convicted of a crime outside of the state of Illinois.

A convicted felon’s road to rehabilitation – in terms of adjusting to life outside of prison and resuming normal social activities including working – is quite difficult. There are many restrictions placed on felons, including who they may associate with, which items they are not permitted to possess, and much more. One of the biggest obstacles they face is finding employment. It should come as no surprise that many employers are reluctant to hire convicted felons, and so these people are often forced to seek lower-paying positions, like in fast food and other service industries, despite their education and professional training. This way, convicted felons are sentenced yet again, but this time to a life of legally sanctioned discrimination in things like housing, education, and especially employment.

This is where the Certificate of Good Standing comes in. It provides evidence that an ex-convict has been rehabilitated for purposes of employment. A convicted felon may show his prospective employer the certificate and this, in addition to various federal programs that provide incentives to employers that hire rehabilitated convicts, eases slightly the path to being gainfully employed for those who have been disenfranchised by the state in this way.

Once an ex-felon has a job, an important hurdle has been overcome. That individual is now able to lawfully earn an income and pay for basic needs like housing and food. With gainful employment, an ex-felon no longer feels strongly compelled to return to a life of crime in order to survive, and can turn his attentions to other desires and goals toward self-improvement. When this is the case, everyone benefits.

Make no mistake: it is still very difficult for convicted felons to put their crimes behind them, turn over a new leaf, and resume leading normal lives. But Illinois lawmakers have taken a small step in making it easier for ex-convicts to gain employment by making the waiting period to receive this certificate 33% shorter.

There is still much work to be done if we intend to commit ourselves to the honorable task of helping those convicted of felonies resume their rightful place as upstanding, productive members of society, but baby steps are still important steps. Anything that extends a helping hand to convicted felons, who are quite a politically, economically, and socially vulnerable group in our country, deserves appreciation and the renewing of our commitment to rehabilitation.

If you or a loved one is currently dealing with a criminal investigation or prosecution on the misdemeanor or felony level, time is of the essence. Contact the Law Offices of Raymond G.Wigell, Ltd., at (708) 481 – 4800. Attorneys are available 24/7, and the first consultation is free. With our 36 years of experience, let us help you in your time of need.

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