Illinois Governor Bans State Jobs From Asking About Applicants’ Criminal Pasts

A felony crimes conviction brings with it a number of different consequences. One such consequence is that a criminal record often makes it difficult for an ex-con to get a job after incarceration. For example, if a person has been convicted of a robbery, he or she must answer “yes” or check the box indicating that he or she has been convicted of a felony crime on a job application. Most often, the unfortunate result is that no amount of explaining can erase a criminal past to a potential employer.

Things are changing, however, and the laws may soon get a major update under Governor Pat Quinn’s “Ban the Box” initiative in Illinois. According to, the Illinois Governor’s administrative order prevents Illinois state employers from asking if a person has a prior criminal record on job applications. The order prevents state jobs from asking about both misdemeanor and felony crimes. While the measure will still allow potential employers to perform background checks, they are not allowed to create applications that contain boxes that can be checked regarding criminal history. It is important to note that the order does not require state employers to hire convicted felons, but it does prevent them from throwing out applications at first glance due to criminal history questions.

Governor Quinn’s order comes after a campaign brought on by the Worker’s Center for Racial Justice, which started the “Ban the Box” efforts. The organization had convicted felons and misdemeanants send postcards to Governor Quinn asking him to pass the law removing the boxes that ask for criminal history. While the order is not a law yet, there are plans to pass “Ban the Box” legislation, which would make it more difficult to overturn the “Ban the Box” measure after Governor Quinn leaves his post.

Statistically, one in four adults who is otherwise eligible to work has a criminal record. Additionally, African-Americans are most at-risk from being denied a job based on a criminal background.

According to, in promoting the measure, Governor Quinn has touted that people with convictions for very petty crimes decades ago will have second chance to get a good job. As for those people convicted for serious crimes, Governor Quinn believes that it is unlikely that they will apply for legitimate state jobs anyway.

If Governor Quinn’s order eventually becomes law, convicted felons and misdemeanants will have a much better chance of being selected for legitimate government jobs. The unfortunate thing today is that the law still does not change the stigma attached to a felony record in private sector jobs. For a person convicted of rape, arson, burglary, or assault, even getting a job at a fast food restaurant or gas station may be very difficult considering his or her criminal past. The result of this is that an ex-convict may be more likely to turn to illegal means of earning money, further ingraining his or herself in the criminal life.

If you have been charged with a felony crime under Illinois law, you should seek help as soon as you can. Contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Goldman & Associates today for a confidential consultation.

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