- Published: 25 August 2016
CHICAGO — Legislation that would give ex-offenders a chance to pursue a career in the health care field became law today.
Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) sponsored the measure in the Illinois Senate.
“Oftentimes, people make a mistake at a young age that can prevent them from being able to pursue a career and fulfill their potential,” Martinez said. “If an ex-offender is able to rehabilitate themselves, then they deserve an opportunity to be employed in the health care field.”
Under the new law Martinez championed, health care professionals who have had their licenses revoked or denied due to a past felony conviction could petition the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) to restore or issue their license.
"It's been a long road," said Carlos Romero, a constituent of Martinez’s and respiratory therapist who could have his license restored because of the new law. "I want to thank Senator Martinez for listening to my story and fighting for a solution."
When deciding if a person should be granted a license, IDFPR must take into account the seriousness of the crime, prior disciplinary actions by state and federal agencies and the date of the conviction among other factors. The department may refuse to issue or restore any license that has been revoked.
"This law gives people a real opportunity to use their talents and have meaningful careers in health care, regardless of their past," said Quintin Williams, FORCE leader with the Community Renewal Society and member of the Restoring Rights and Opportunities Coalition of Illinois.
IDFPR would not be able to restore or issue a license to anyone who has committed a sex crime. Anyone who has committed a sex crime or is required to register as a sex offender would be banned for life from receiving a health care license.
Senate Bill 42 is effective Jan. 1, 2017.