State Representative Jehan Gordon-Booth is sponsoring legislation to remove a common roadblock for those with a criminal record.
Nearly 400 people in Gordon-Booth’s legislative district went through the expungement summit last summer. But 150 mostly black people were denied having their records sealed based only on outstanding fines.
Gordon-Booth says that only serves to limit their earning potential that could eventually make room to pay their fines. “Justice has to be for everybody. It cannot be just for people who can afford it. And that’s what we are experiencing now. We are experiencing a system that clearly based on fines and fees is discriminatory in its practices.”
Gordon-Booth’s proposal is called the F.A.T.E. Act standing for Fair Access To Employment. It would amend the Criminal Identification Act.
Expungement summits in other communities last year included Bloomington, Champaign and Decatur. The circuit clerks in those corresponding counties offered a limited window of time in which they reduced or waived fines and fees for those satisfying all other parts of the expungement or record sealing process.
The F.A.T.E Act is expected to come up for a vote on the Illinois House floor in the next month. It still needs to move through the Senate before it goes to the governor’s desk.