Illinois' new law allowing inmates to train for some professional licenses before their release has produced its first success story.
Landus Jackson took all of the required classes and was approved to receive his cosmetology and barber's license, but he was still in an Illinois prison. Once released from the Vienna Correctional Center, Jackson was able to secure his license right away, and with it, a better chance to stay out of prison. Jackson is the first to do so thanks to the new law.
Jackson is excited about his job prospects.
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"I feel that this has given me a bigger opportunity to do whatever it is that I want to do," Jackson, 40, said.
“I am extremely proud that Illinois is taking steps to improve outcomes for men and women who have been incarcerated,” Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) acting Director John Baldwin said. “Everyone deserves a second chance, and that is exactly what Landus is getting today -- a fair shot at finding employment that will increase his odds of not returning to IDOC custody.”
The state requires 1,500 hours of training to get the license, so before the law, Jackson would have needed to spend months training without pay after his release before he could support himself with his skills.
"So often, when offenders are released, there are a lot of hurdles in their path that prevent them from finding employment," Corrections Spokeswoman Nicole Wilson said. "We anticipate all who complete their courses are going to at least apply for that license before they leave IDOC custody."
Gov. Bruce Rauner, by executive order, created a commission with the goal of reducing the prison population in Illinois by 25 percent by 2025. Removing barriers for ex-inmates to get professional licenses was one of the commission’s recommendations.