Illinois is a gubernatorial signature away from giving some formerly incarcerated Illinoisans a chance to turn their lives around.

Lisa Creason of Decatur, Ill., was 19 when she was arrested for stealing money from a cash register to feed her family. Creason completed nursing school, but the state denied her a license to work as a nurse because of her criminal record.

Creason has spent the past few years lobbying lawmakers to change the law, and the bill headed to the governor’s desk would allow people to be considered for a health care worker’s license after a waiting period of the greater of five years after their conviction or three years after their release from prison.

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“Senate Bill 42 releases lifelong restrictions on nonviolent offenders, allows Illinois to reduce the welfare population and save Illinois taxpayers thousands each year,” Creason said.

Creason said it has been debilitating to have the state tell her she cannot pursue her dream. “I felt like I’ve done so much and I’ve made so many changes. Not just for me, but for the betterment of my community.”

State Rep. Carol Ammons, D-Champaign, said the bill gives reformed residents the chance at a new life. “This is going to impact hundreds of thousands of families.”

More than 30,000 people leave Illinois’ prison system every year. Nearly half return in less than three years. But people who get a job after prison are less likely to be repeat offenders.


(Copyright WBGZ /