Valerie Newsome is no stranger to the employment complications caused by a criminal record. The resident of Lawndale used to be paid by a state agency to care for her mother until, after background checks became mandatory, she was let go for the nonviolent criminal conviction that stands as a constant blemish on her record.
She is one of thousands of individuals around the state with nonviolent convictions that advocates estimate would have a better chance of finding employment, and staying out of poverty, if the Illinois state legislature passed HB5723. The bill seeks to expand the types of convictions that can be sealed to ensure they don't show up on routine background checks and that ex-offenders are not discriminated against when trying to get housing, an education or a job.
HB5723 was the topic of last week's Barber Shop Show on Vocalo. After the show, which is broadcast live from Carter's Barber Shop in North Lawndale every Friday at 12pm, Melissa Williams, attorney and advocate for the HB5723 sealing bill, asked Newsome how HB5723 would help her.