Illinois has some new laws on the books aimed at keeping those who’ve gotten out of prison from going back in.
One new law increases the tax credit that employers get for hiring ex-offenders from $600 to $1,500 a year. Gov. Pat Quinn says this is still a good deal for taxpayers.
“The cost of somebody incarcerated in Illinois is $21,000 a year. That’s a great deal of money. We’d much rather have that person not in prison, not doing wrong, but rather in the community doing right, working hard,” he said at a bill-signing ceremony over the weekend.
The law also allows the tax credit to be valid if an ex-offender is hired within three years of being released from incarceration, rather than the previous deadline of one year. The tax credit may be taken for up to five years.
Another measure allows judges to sentence non-violent offenders to “second chance probation,” so that if they successfully complete at least two years of probation, the conviction will be cleared from their record. It’s not a requirement, but it’s an option for judges to consider. This measure was sponsored by Illinois House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego), along with State Sen. Linda Holmes (D-Aurora).
A third new law ensures that motions to expunge or seal criminal records are heard in a timely manner. It also requires that if a judge rules in the petitioner’s favor, that ruling is delivered promptly to the proper authorities.