BLOOMINGTON — Ex-offenders looking for work have a chance to delay questions about their criminal history under an Illinois law known as Ban the Box.

Signed by former Gov. Pat Quinn, the 2015 law bars employers from asking about a person's criminal background on applications, or during the early part of the recruiting process.

The law, applying to companies with 15 or more employees, does not require a firm to hire a person with a criminal background and does not apply to those hired under the state's Emergency Medical Services System Act. Other exclusions include positions covered by requirements of state and federal law.

The goal of the law is to encourage employers to consider an individual's qualifications without the potential bias that comes with a criminal record, said Eddie Perkins, pastor at Seeds of Hope Outreach Ministry, a Bloomington organization that helps former offenders with re-entry efforts.

"Without this provision, the employer could look over the abilities and experience and go straight to the criminal history," said Perkins, who counsels people to be honest about their criminal record when meeting with potential employers.

"The truth will stand the test of time and integrity is a great quality to have," said Perkins.

According to Illinois Attorney Lisa Madigan's office, three complaints have been filed with the state since the law was implemented. 

Ban the Box has been adopted by more than 150 cities and counties in 25 states. An estimated 70 million people in the U.S. have an arrest or conviction on their record.

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Follow Edith Brady-Lunny on Twitter: @pg_blunny

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McLean County Courts Reporter

McLean County courts reporter for The Pantagraph.

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