Advocates say giving ex-felons jobs could curb violence

August 5, 2013

By Aimee Chen

(Flickr/ Ben Oberg)
An ex-felon is applying for jobs at Re-Entry One Stop in 2010. Chicago advocates say helping ex-offenders find jobs could result in less violence across the city.

Advocates said new legislation that helps ex-felons find jobs could also curb violence.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn on Saturday signed laws that could result in lesser sentences for nonviolent offenders, streamline the expungement process and, in some cases, could clear a defendant’s record.

Anthony Lowery is the director for policy and advocacy at Safer Foundation, a local prisoner reentry program. He said ex-offenders often come home to high crime areas.

“They have the majority of people who have arrest and conviction records and who can’t get employment,” he said. “So, young people don’t see people coming out of the house going to work. They see people coming out of those houses standing on the corners.”

Without job opportunities, “they’re in a hopeless situation,” Lowery said.

Another law increased the tax credit incentive given to employers who hire ex-offenders.

Employers could earn up to $1,500 in income tax credit for each ex-felon they hire within three years after being released from prison. They can benefit from the credit for up to five years.

Aimee Chen is a WBEZ business reporting intern. Follow her at @AimeeYuyiChen