A state task force is supposed to be looking into laws that ban convicts from certain types of jobs. The trouble is the commission, required by a 2010 state law, has yet to meet, and its report is due in September. It is not expected to meet the deadline. At issue are bans on employment for ex-offenders. Lawyer Thomas Grippano, a former lobbyist for the Cook County Public Defender, says a review is needed.
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“I think we can all agree that we need a list of over the last hundred years of statutes we’ve passed, and try to figure out what are we actually restricting, and are there any of these restrictions that are not reasonably related to public safety,” he testified before a House judiciary committee in Springfield. Grippano says some bans are for a lifetime with no reconsideration. Others are for shorter times, and some allow waivers if an ex-offender can show that he or she has been rehabilitated. He says all the bans should all be evaluated as to whether they make sense in terms of the offense the ex-con committed, how long ago the offense was, and whether it’s related to the job in question.
Re-entry advocates say the job bans make it difficult for ex-offenders to become law-abiding, productive citizens, and they criticize the bans for being haphazard. For example, a convicted burglar is barred from being a locksmith for five years after leaving prison, at which time he also is allowed to be licensed to handle explosives, and manage an intermediate care facility for the developmentally disabled. At 10 years, he can install burglar alarms. Some offenders are forever banned from the medical profession, though they may apply for a waiver. The state and some local governments also have bans on hiring ex-offenders.