SB 1781, a bill seeking a year extension of the waiver of a $120 fee for criminal record expungement application by individuals in Cook County whose charges were eventually dropped, passed the Illinois House of Representatives with a vote of 61-55, Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced today.
The bill was drafted and supported by the Cook County Sheriff’s Office and will now head to Governor Rauner’s desk for signature. The original legislation, which established the pilot program and was also brought forth by the CCSO, was signed into law by Governor Rauner last August and took effect January 1, 2017.
The waiver extension bill was passed unanimously by the Illinois Senate on April 27.
“I commend both chambers for recognizing the need for a longer look at this important program – which eliminates what can effectively be called a criminal justice tax directed at the poor and vulnerable in our society,” Sheriff Dart said. “With the elimination of this fee, we’re giving people an opportunity to restore their name and a better shot at obtaining long-term stability in the form of employment or a better housing situation.”
According to Sheriff’s Office research done last year, 17 percent of the more than 70,000 people who enter Cook County Jail every year get released as a result of having their cases dropped or being found not guilty, and this does not even take into account those who could afford to pay their bonds or were given house arrest.
SB 1781 was sponsored by Sen. Jacqueline Collins in the Senate and Rep. Art Turner in the House.