State Senator Raoul sponsors innovative “Offender Initiative Program”

Good behavior, staying drug-free could lead to expunged records for non-violent crimes


SPRINGFIELD, IL – The Senate passed, by a bipartisan vote of 52-1, State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-13th)’s plan to allow first-time, non-violent offenders to have their records expunged immediately upon the successful completion of a two-year diversion program similar to probation. The Offender Initiative Program would apply to arrestees convicted or indicted on charges of burglary, theft, forgery, possession of a stolen vehicle, or possession of an illegal drug.

“The Offender Initiative Program will open up opportunities for gainful employment to individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to changing their lives and atoning for past mistakes,” Sen. Raoul said. “It will give offenders a powerful incentive to make restitution, seek treatment for substance abuse problems, and avoid reentering the criminal justice system.”

The state’s attorney and a judge must consent to allow the offender to enter the program. The Offender Initiative Program requires minimum conditions for the two-year period, including holding a job or performing community service, passing drug tests, making full restitution to the victim, and not owning a firearm. A judge could also require the offender to complete a drug treatment program. Both minors and adults would be eligible, but a person would be eligible for the program only once.

Once the court determined that the offender had successfully completed the program, the proceedings would be dismissed and a judgment would not be entered. If, however, the individual is convicted of any offense within five years after the dismissal, the previous encounter with the law would be admissible as evidence in the new trial.

“Our communities need ways to make crime pay and protect the public while preventing recidivism by giving offenders the tools they need to live within the law in the future,” Sen. Raoul said. “The Offender Initiative Program is an innovative blend of these priorities, and I
expect to see less crowded prisons and more individuals getting the help they need because of this legislation.”

Sen. Raoul thanks Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez for her work on this legislation.