New Illinois Law Gives Employers Incentives To Hire Ex-Offenders And Allows Ex-Offenders To Seal Criminal Records

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Illinois Governor Pat Quinn recently signed a bill into law that gives employers greater financial incentives to hire persons with criminal records and makes it easier for ex-offenders to seal or expunge their criminal records. The bill which is effective immediately, amends an Illinois tax law by increasing the income tax credit for employers who hire qualified persons with criminal records to $1,500 (an increase from the previous $600 tax credit). The law also allows an employer to claim the tax credit provided it hired the employee within three years after the ex-offender’s release from prison, whereas, previously, the tax credit only applied if the ex-offender was hired within one year of release from prison. Further, employers can take these tax credits for up to five years. In addition to giving employers greater financial incentives to hire ex-offenders, the law also expands the types of nonviolent felonies that may be sealed, including: theft, retail theft, forgery, possession of burglary tools and possession with intent to manufacture or deliver a controlled substance. However, the ex-offender must, among other things, wait four years after the completion of his/her last sentence before seeking to have any of these offenses sealed. If sealed, these felonies will not appear on background check reports and, under an existing Illinois law, employers are not allowed to ask job applicants about sealed or expunged criminal records or arrest records. A seperate bill amending the Illinois Criminal Identification Act, which becomes effective on January 1, 2014, allows nonviolent convictions to be expunged from a person’s criminal record if the person has successfully completed at least two years of probation.