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Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

ESR News Blog about IllinoisIllinois Governor Pat Quinn has signed “Ban the Box” legislation – HB 5701 (Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act) – that will help ex-offenders find work in the private sector by preventing criminal background checks until after an applicant is deemed qualified for a job. The law takes effect January 1, 2015. The full text is available at

“Everyone deserves a second chance when it comes to getting a job. This law will help ensure that people across Illinois get a fair shot to reach their full potential through their skills and qualifications, rather than past history,” Governor Quinn stated in a press release available at

Sponsored by State Representative Rita Mayfield (D-Waukegan) and State Senator Antonio Muñoz (D-Chicago), House Bill 5701 prohibits private employers or employment agencies in Illinois from asking about the criminal histories of applicants until they are deemed qualified and selected for interviews. The law does not apply to jobs where employers must exclude applicants with criminal histories.

In 2013, Illinois Governor Quinn issued an administrative order to prohibit state agencies from asking job applicants about their criminal history before beginning to evaluate the individual’s knowledge, skills, and abilities. In 2010, he launched the Summit of Hope events to provide assistance to ex-offenders in Illinois to help them reintegrate safely into society.

According to a Statewide Ban the Box Resource Guide from the National Employment Law Project (NELP), states enacting “Ban the Box” legislation include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Rhode Island. The Ban the Box Resource Guide is available at

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