Eye On Illinois: Jobs a vital opportunity for those who pay debt to society

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A significant percentage of current political debate centers on the future of pre-trial detention. That is, how do we deal with people only accused of crimes, not yet convicted?

At the other end of the criminal justice spectrum are those who pleaded or have been found guilty, sentenced to prison and served their allotted time. There’s not a lot of talk about such folks now, but that could change in the coming veto session if House Bill 3215 gets its day in the sun.

State Rep. Justin Slaughter, D-Chicago, introduced the bill Feb. 19, 2021. It now has 19 co-sponsors and has been in the House Rules Committee since April 11, 2022. Known as the Securing All Futures for Equitable Reinvestment in Communities Act, the plan could create a tax credit pilot program giving employers tax credits for hiring people who have been incarcerated.

Companies would get one-time tax credits for hiring and training, while the workers get $850 wage subsidy vouchers that move with them if needed.

The revenue department said it can’t provide a fiscal impact estimate, according to the bill’s landing page on the General Assembly website. Although the bill language limits the total credits to $1.5 billion over six years, “the legislation, as introduced, contains multiple drafting ambiguities, errors, and incomplete definitions” such as being unclear on which workers would qualify and doesn’t succinctly establish annual credit limits.

The SAFER Communities Act also could run into Republican opposition because of the parts that reduce sentencing ranges for all felony classes and removes minimum sentences for Class 4 felonies and Class A and B misdemeanors. As written, the bill would apply retroactively, which would open the door to resentencing appeals.

Many HB 3215 provisions could be tough sells. But the core issue resonates: people who pay their debt by definition earn a chance to rejoin society. Gainful employment is vital to re-acclimation, and directly incentivizing employers will help those that have struggled to find willing workers at a time of labor market volatility.

ON THIS DAY: “What is happening to us as a nation? Profits are up, but so are the sale of tranquilizers and the number of children dropping out of school. We are unafraid, in danger of losing something solid at the core. We are in need of that pioneer and pilgrim spirit which built this country of ours. We take for granted our security, our liberty, and our future when we cannot take any of them for granted.”

The speaker? U.S. Sen. John F. Kennedy, D-Mass. The date? Oct. 25, 1959. The site? DeKalb’s Egyptian Theatre. For more, visit tinyurl.com/JFKDeKalb to read a Daily Chronicle article marking the 55th anniversary of the future president’s visit.

• Scott T. Holland writes about state government issues for Shaw Media. Follow him on Twitter @sth749. He can be reached at sholland@shawmedia.com.

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October 25, 2022 at 06:07AM

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