SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) is pleased to announce the governor has signed her legislation ending Illinois’ practice of discouraging parolees from worshipping, doing community service and participating in mentorship programs together.
“Freedom of association in positive settings can facilitate a smooth reentry into society and help those on parole obtain the help and resources they need to succeed outside the prison walls,” Collins said. “When parolees mentor and encourage each other, engage in job training together, worship or volunteer together, they can build up their peers and their communities.”
Current law prohibits individuals who are on parole, aftercare release or mandatory supervised release from knowingly associating with others who are also under one of these restrictions without the written permission of their parole agents or aftercare specialists. This limitation is designed to prevent ex-offenders from returning to former criminal associates or gangs, but Collins recognizes that the ban is over-broad and can prevent parolees from engaging in many positive activities, such as worship services, volunteerism and community activism.
“When offenders have completed their time behind bars, they must be reintegrated into our neighborhoods in ways that allow them to give back and pursue alternatives to crime,” Collins said. “Participation — alongside others with similar life stories — in a religious congregation, community service organization or mentoring program can serve as a powerful catalyst for purpose and change, and as we continue to struggle as a society with cycles of recidivism and violent crime, we must embrace creative solutions.”