CHICAGO (AP) — Gov. Pat Quinn wasted little time in signing legislation Saturday that will wipe the slate clean for young people who were arrested but not charged with a crime.
Quinn penned approval of a plan that is particularly popular among black voters and garnered the support of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
The measure, which got final legislative approval May 29 but wasn't sent to the Democratic governor until Thursday, automatically clears juvenile records in less-serious, nonviolent cases upon the person's 18th birthday, as long as the last arrest occurred at least six months previously.
"Many young residents are arrested each year for minor offenses that have the potential to negatively affect their future," Quinn said in a prepared statement. "... This new law will ensure that those individuals are given a clean slate and have every opportunity to land a job and succeed in life.
Currently, juveniles wishing to clear their records must go through the courts to scrub their records.
The law takes effect Jan. 1. It excludes some sex-related offenses and higher-level felony arrests.
Senate sponsor Kwame Raoul, a Chicago Democrat, called it "a step toward ensuring our young adults who are doing the right thing in pursuing opportunities to advance themselves are not handicapped with a criminal record for an offense that was never pursued by prosecutors."
Raoul and Rep. Art Turner, D-Chicago, attended a Chicago City Hall news conference Monday and praised Emanuel, whose support among black voters is falling, for the "push from outside" needed for legislation to gain General Assembly approval.
"If it was popular, somebody else would have done it ... ," Emanuel said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. "Nobody wanted to take it on because it was politically (unpopular)."
The bill is SB978