Two Republican state lawmakers are drafting legislation to ban former gang members from working for the Illinois prison system and three other state agencies in the wake of a Chicago Sun-Times investigation.
Under the proposal by Reps. Dennis Reboletti, R-Elmhurst, and John Anthony, R-Morris, a person who is “documented to have been a member of a criminal gang” would be prohibited from employment by the state Department of Corrections, State Police, the Department of Juvenile Justice and the Department of Children and Family Services.
The legislation comes after the Sun-Times disclosed that Xadrian R. McCraven, a former gang member, was hired to a six-figure job within the state prison system last year despite being found unfit to work for IDOC in 2007 and 2011 because of problems identified in background checks.
McCraven had been working for DCFS until 2012 but was fired from the child-welfare system for allegedly sending lewd emails and falsifying a job application. He was transferred to a $111,432-a-year job as senior adviser to the IDOC chief of parole after settling a lawsuit and a union grievance he’d filed over his DCFS firing.
Federal court records show McCraven’s criminal history includes two dozen arrests that had been expunged and three misdemeanor convictions. He admitted being a gang member for two years in the late 1980s in a corrections job application he filled out in 2011.
* Illinois Observer…
Under their proposal, a person who is documented to have been a member of a criminal gang would be prohibited from employment by the Illinois Department of Corrections, the Illinois State Police, the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
For the prohibition to apply, there would have to be documentary evidence that he or she was a member of a criminal street gang, including a gang related conviction of gang-related offense or finding of fact by a court and would apply to all hiring by agencies including unionized and political hires.
Similarly, Rep. Ives is looking to address the situation in a broader sense with a proposal prohibiting a person with two or more criminal convictions from holding employment with the State of Illinois.
“I think the taxpayers of Illinois are fed up with these types of stories,” stated Ives. “To have a politically connected employee bounce between agencies collecting a high level salary with this type of record, all the while apparently falsifying qualifications is just not acceptable. And to have been repeatedly ‘placed’ into positions just leaves you asking more questions.”
Under her proposal, a person who has been convicted two or more times of criminal offenses including a felony, class A Misdemeanor or a DUI would be ineligible to be employed in any position by the State of Illinois. While it would exempt certain traffic violations and smaller class misdemeanors, the prohibition would apply prospectively to all state hiring including unionized, political, legislative and judicial employees.
* And the Sun-Times, which recently editorialized against allowing anyone to run for any political office who has a felony record, doesn’t like either of these proposals…
Yes, McCraven’s hiring record raises troubling questions. We’ve made it clear in earlier editorials that we don’t think a guy like him belongs in a job like that. But two solutions offered Friday from three Illinois legislators are the wrong answer.
State Rep. Dennis Reboletti, R-Elmhurst, and state Rep. John Anthony, R-Morris want to ban anyone who ever has been a member of a gang from working for the Illinois Department of Corrections, the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, the Illinois State Police or the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. State Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton, wants to prohibit anyone with two or more criminal convictions, exempting traffic tickets and some other minor violations, from holding any state job — ever.
Sorry, that just won’t work. Too many young people grow up in neighborhoods where it’s as easy — or perhaps easier — to pick up a gang affiliation or criminal conviction as it is for a North Shore teenager to be caught shoplifting. Denying these young people a chance at a good state job might close off the best opportunity they have for a solid career. As John Hagedorn, associate professor of criminal justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago, has pointed out, many young people leave gangs and go on to lead productive lives. Rather than ban young people, we’d be better off trying to help them get a stable foothold in society.
We know the primary election is coming up in March, meaning this isn’t exactly the best time of year for thoughtful legislative ideas.
But these two proposals should be quietly taken out in the back and dropped into the dumpster.