Trying to readjust to ordinary society after being released from prison can be quite tough. Besides the societal stigma associated with having a felony conviction, individuals face significant barriers to accessing work, school, housing, and reentering their communities. The criminal system finds it easy to put people in prison. However, it does not provide many resources for helping people once they have left prison.
Despite this, there are many independent resources in Illinois that help formerly incarcerated individuals get back on their feet after serving a sentence. These resources offer reentry programs, help with job search and training, cash assistance, housing resources, and much more. If you need direction toward these resources or any help in relation to your criminal case, the lawyers at Hirsch Law Group are here to help in any way we can.
Hirsch Law Group has a team of former prosecutors that now work as aggressive criminal defense attorneys. Because of our experience, we understand the difficulties faced by defendants in the criminal legal system, and we dedicate our careers to protecting your future. With the Illinois justice system, you need to make sure that you have a strong legal representative by your side, ensuring that your legal rights are protected at all costs.
Call our law firm today at 815-880-1134 for some free legal help.
Consequences of Criminal Records
Being convicted of a crime in Illinois has severe consequences. First, felony charges carry harsh penalties, often including mandatory minimum prison sentences, substantial fines, and lengthy probation periods. Yet, most ex-felons note that the most difficult thing about being convicted of a crime is receiving a permanent criminal record.
Criminal records create significant barriers for individuals to reintegrate into society. The criminal justice system does not take these hardships into account when convicting people of crimes. Some difficulties ex-felons face with criminal records include:
- Job search – Finding job opportunities with a criminal record is difficult. Potential employers will conduct background checks on you before hiring you and some fields of work do not accept those with a felony conviction, including public office, education, and healthcare jobs.
- Education – It can be a lot more difficult to get accepted into a school or university with a criminal record.
- Housing – Besides being outright barred from applying to or remaining in public housing, ex-felons can face difficulties applying to private housing and may be unable to get a loan or mortgage from a financial institution or bank.
There are further consequences for receiving a felony conviction in Illinois. If you are convicted of a felony, it can be significantly more difficult to get your record expunged or sealed. Most felony convictions cannot be expunged from your criminal record unless the charge did not result in a conviction, your sentence was pardoned or overturned, or you received a supervisory sentence and the period has passed.
In addition, you will lose some constitutional rights if you are convicted of a felony crime in Illinois. This includes the right to bear arms, the right to vote, the right to take part in jury duty, and the right to run for public office.
Are There Resources For Ex-Felons in Illinois?
The criminal justice system does not offer many avenues for incarcerated people or ex-offenders to get back on their feet. In most cases, people leave prison with no government support or resources to assist them in reintegrating back into society. The lack of resources funded by the federal government for ex-felons makes it more likely that they will commit crimes again.
Fortunately, there are many independent resources for ex-felons in Illinois that can help those convicted of a crime to get back on their feet.
Job Readiness Training
Job readiness training programs help job seekers who have formerly been incarcerated gain employable skills. These skills, such as job searching, job retention, interviewing, and reliability, aim to help formerly incarcerated people gain and keep employment after leaving prison.
Some organizations that offer job readiness training programs in Illinois include:
- The North Lawndale Employment Network in Chicago, IL.
- Workforce Development Program by Teamwork Englewood in Chicago, IL.
- Cara Chicago, IL.
- Prisoner Entrepreneur Education Program by the Illinois Department of Corrections.
There are many organizations throughout Illinois that assist ex-felons with all areas of employment, including job training, job referrals, job placement, and other services. Some of these services include:
- Cara Chicago – This program provides ex-felons with a full-time training program after leaving prison and has two transitional employment programs. These programs provide entry-level and short-term employment contracts in food service, healthcare, hospitality, warehousing, maintenance, and landscaping.
- The Howard Area Community Center – An Employment and Resource Center that helps incarcerated people with employment assistance, such as networking, interviewing, and finding a job, in addition to providing reentry resources.
- Westside Health Authority – The Westside Health Authority provides free employment services for individuals that are released from prison. These services include work placement help, resume assistance, and Job Clubs each week. This organization will also provide substance abuse counseling for those struggling with substance addiction.
Restore Justice Illinois also has a website dedicated to providing resources to formerly incarcerated individuals, which is regularly updated.
Education Justice Project
The EJP is a college-in-prison program that helps those serving time in prison get an education. It provides for-credit courses and extracurricular programming. In addition, the EJP provides and publishes reentry guides and resources for ex-felons and has set up a website called ReentryIllinois that allows individuals to search for reentry services throughout the state.
When you leave prison after serving time for a felony, you will probably have very little money, particularly if you had to pay fines and court costs. There are some services in Illinois that provide financial support to those who leave prison and others that provide grants to help them get back on their feet. These programs include:
- The Chicago Future Fund, Equity, and Transformation (EAT) – This pilot program offers monthly payments of $500 to former inmates for a period of 18 months.
- Cook County Promise Guaranteed Income Pilot – The Cook County Government offers monthly $500 payments for 2 years with no strings attached. All citizens, including those with a felony on their record, can avail of this program.
- Emergency Fund, Love & Protect – This fund aims to help individuals who were convicted of self-defense relating to domestic violence. Formerly incarcerated individuals who identify as women, trans men, or non-binary can avail of this program.
What legal resources are available to ex-felons in Illinois?
Illinois provides several legal resources for ex-felons. Many non-profit organizations offer free legal aid to help with issues like expungement or sealing of criminal records, which can increase employment opportunities.
Illinois Legal Aid Online is one resource providing legal information and referrals. The state also has Public Defender’s offices and organizations like Cabrini Green Legal Aid that help with civil legal issues arising from the justice system.
Additionally, the Illinois Department of Corrections provides resources and programs focused on re-entry, aiming to reduce recidivism. However, accessibility may vary, emphasizing the importance of local guidance and advice.
Call The Illinois Criminal Defense Lawyers at Hirsch Law Group!
People often believe that once you leave prison or complete your criminal sentence, life is automatically easier. However, life with a felony conviction on your criminal record can be quite difficult, especially when you are first released. The criminal justice system does not provide assistance to returning citizens to adjust back to their community.
However, there are many independent resources in Illinois that can help you get back on your feet, including job services, housing assistance, grant programs, cash assistance, reentry resources, legal help, and many other programs. If you have been released from prison and need help to get back on your feet, a lawyer from Hirsch Law Group can help you.
Our law firm has been helping citizens all throughout Illinois for over 15 years to fight against the criminal legal system. Having worked as former prosecutors, we understand how important it is to protect the accused’s rights and ensure that their lives are not ruined by a criminal conviction.
Whether you need assistance with building a criminal defense or moving on from a criminal record, our lawyers are ready to help you with whatever you need.
Call us today to schedule a free consultation at 815-880-1134.