Peter came up to the Lord and asked, “How many times should I forgive someone who does somethimg wrong to me? Is seven times enough?” Jesus answered, “Not just seven times, but seventy times seven times!”
– Matthew 18: 21-22
After months of emails, in district meetings, and a massive action by 500 people in Springfield on Tuesday for Day of Faith at the Capitol, on Friday, the Illinois House of Representatives passed HB3061, the Illinois Sealing Bill, by a bi-partisan vote of 65-35. 16 Republicans joined 49 Democrats to pass this vital bill, which would expand sealing of records for people with low-level, non-violent felony convictions. Congratulations on your fantastic work to get us this far! And congratulations to Representative LaShawn Ford and all the organizations, including the Shriver Center, Cabrini Green Legal Aid, Heartland Alliance, SAFER Foundation, and Chicago Jobs Council, who worked to make this victory possible.
But now the fight heads to the Illinois State Senate. Urge your Illinois State Senator to support and co-sponsor HB 3061, the Illinois Sealing Bill to expand opportunities for employment, housing and education for people with low-level, non-violent felony records.
To secure the necessary votes, a compromise was reached between the bill’s sponsor and Republican leadership, which resulted in an amendment that removed the three Class 2 felony charges from the bill. However, the bill still expands sealing from only three Class 4 charges, to fifteen Class 4 and 3 charges including theft, retail theft, deceptive practices, possession of burglary tools, and possession with intent. This expansion would give thousands of our brothers and sisters a chance for a fresh start.
Community Renewal Society’s advocacy for the Sealing Bill has been led by the FORCE (Fighting to Overcome Records and Create Equality) Project. This initiative is led by people with records, organizing to change the systems that keep them and their families in bondage, even after they are released. FORCE leaders have been travelling to Springfield to share their testimony with members of the Illinois General Assembly, ensuring that these crucial stories shape the discussion regarding the Illinois Sealing Bill. In the coming weeks, we will be heading back to Springfield with a small delegation of FORCE leaders to move the Senate to follow the House’s lead.
But FORCE can’t do it alone. FORCE leaders need you to email your State Senator now and tell them to support HB3061. And we need you to sponsor a FORCE leader to travel to Springfield. A trip costs about $50 per leader.
Email your Senator! Take action now!
Thank you again, for your work to move this crucial legislation forward. Together, we will keep moving forward to build a more just state for all people.