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Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

Illinois State Representative La Shawn K. Ford (D-Chicago) held a press conference on Sunday, March 13, 2016, with people who have a criminal background in America to call on presidential candidates running in the upcoming Illinois primary on Tuesday to make workforce re-entry issues a priority for the United States, according to a press release from Ford’s office.

“A criminal background in America is a disability that prevents citizens from living a productive life in America,” Representative Ford stated in the press release. “This is not about political gain – this is about justice. Americans with criminal records should be given a second chance if they have served their time and are fully committed to obeying the laws of the land.”

Ford then asked current presidential candidates for help. “Immigration, global warming, and many international issues are being debated, but we must ask our candidates running for President of the United States – who are asking for our votes – that they make issues dealing with re-entry of our returning and returned citizens a priority if our nation is to heal its wounds.”

Commissioner Howard C. Medley, a veteran with a Purple Heart, shared many issues that plague those with a criminal background. “I’m a black, 89 year old man, a Democrat and role model in the community. I was wrongfully convicted and jailed 28 years ago, and I still can’t live the American dream. I am trying to clear my name for a crime I did not commit in the first place.”

The press conference for people with a criminal background was held at the Criminal Court Building of the Circuit Court of Cook County. For more re-entry information for people with a criminal background, contact one of Ford’s constituent service offices in Oak Park (708-445-3673), Chicago (773-378-5902), Springfield (217-782-5962), or visit

According to a 2012 survey from the U.S. Department of Justice, a total number of more than 100 million people have criminal history files in all fifty states, American Samoa, Guam, and Puerto Rico. The actual number of people with a criminal background in America may be less since an individual offender may have criminal records in more than one state.

A 2012 survey from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the world’s largest association devoted to HR management representing more than 250,000 members, found nearly seven out of ten organizations – 69 percent – conducted criminal background checks on all of their job candidates while 18 percent conducted criminal checks on selected job candidates.

As reported earlier by ESR News in July 2014, former Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed “Ban the Box” legislation – HB 5701 (Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act) – to 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 new law took effect January 1, 2015.

The Ban the Box movement seeks to remove the criminal background question on applications. Ban the Box laws are in more than 100 cities and counties and 18 states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia.

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) supports fair and sensible Ban the Box legislation and encourages employers to prepare to adopt Ban the Box policies. ESR offers a complimentary Ban the Box Information Page with links to news, resources, and legislation to keep employers up-to-date. For more information about Ban the Box, visit

ESR Founder and CEO Attorney Lester Rosen wrote a whitepaper titled “Ten Critical Steps for Ex-Offenders to Get Back into the Workforce” to assist job applicants with a criminal background re-enter society through employment. This complimentary whitepaper is available at

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this web site is for educational purposes only.

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