Legislation has advanced out of the House Committee on Urban Issues that seeks to give some non-violent offenders some help in getting a job, to keep them from repeat offending.
Representative Jamilah Nasheed (D-St. Louis) says she has sponsored the bill for five years and this is the first time it has advanced out of a committee. She says her goal is, “To be able to not allow for employers to look at non-violent offenses as an obstacle to employment opportunities. I would also like to allow for law enforcement to continue to have access to those records.”
Under the proposal, non-violent offenders who have not committed additional crimes for five years after release can ask a judge to keep their criminal records from being accessible to potential employers. The judge can determine whether certain criteria have been met and then decide whether or not to grant the request.
Nasheed says right now, such individuals return to crime when they are turned away for employment because of their history. “They go out and they wreak havoc in our communities. They start selling drugs on our street corners. They start breaking into the homes and cars trying just to survive.”
She says without some way to break that cycle, the state will have to deal with such individuals at one point or another. “Either we’re going to deal with it on the front end or we’re going to deal with it on the back end. We’re going to house them in prison or we’re going to allow for them to have job opportunities after coming home from prison.
Nasheed is not discouraged that the bill has taken so long to advance. She notes, Illinois took seven years to pass similar language, which it is just now implementing.
The bill moves on to the House Rules Committee, and from there could advance to the House Calendar.