Second Chance Legislation Awaits Illinois Governor's Pen

Second Chance Legislation WouldExpand Certificate of Good Conduct Eligibility, Eliminate Waiting Period to Seal Record

Recently, I wrote about several Chance Second bills that were making their way through the Illinois General Assembly.  These bills would benefit people who have a criminal background.  One bill would keep someone from getting a criminal record (decriminalizing marijuana).

This post summarizes the remaining noteworthy bills awaiting Governor Rauner’s signature.

Increase Certificate of Good Conduct Eligibility

House Bill 3475 would increase eligibility to apply for a Certificate of Good Conduct (CGC). A CGC is helpful to someone who has a criminal record that cannot be entirely sealed.  A CGC can waive statutory barriers to employment, such as those that exist in education.

The bill would eliminate Class X felonies and forcible felonies from the list of prohibited offenses. Instead, arson, aggravated arson, kidnapping, and aggravated kidnapping will replace Class X felonies and forcible felonies as disqualifying offenses.  People with aggravated DUI (alcohol or drugs) or aggravated domestic battery convictions are also not eligible to apply for a CGC.

No Waiting Period to Seal If Obtain GED or Job Training

House Bill 3149 would eliminate the waiting period to seal a record if the defendant earns a high school diploma, GED, college degree (2-year or 4-year), or obtains a career or vocational education certification while serving his or her sentence (in prison or on probation).

Instead of waiting four years from the termination of one’s criminal sentence, an individual would be permitted to seal his or her record after immediately completing his or her last sentence.

This bill, along with SB 844 (previously discussed), would be the first bills in several years to reduce waiting periods to seal or expunge a criminal record in Illinois.

Both HB 3475 and HB 3149 were sent to Governor Rauner on June 24, 2015. By late August, we should know if these bills will become law on January 1, 2016.