Increased Opportunities for Parents with Criminal Records

The United States arrests and imprisons more people than any other country, and as a result, as many as one in three American adults have some type of criminal record.

Unfortunately, incarceration carries a lifetime of consequences.  According to the Center for American Progress report titled “One Strike and You’re Out,” having even a minor criminal record can be a life sentence to poverty, presenting obstacles to employment, housing, education and training, public assistance, financial empowerment, and more. And if you are a parent, your entire family, especially your children, will be negatively impacted.

The experienced and compassionate Illinois criminal law attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd., believe that lengthy incarceration for those accused of crimes is not always the best answer.  We understand the seriousness of the situation and offer aggressive representation for clients facing criminal charges.  We know the courts and the criminal justice system and how to plea bargain, negotiate guidelines and recognize when to take your case to trial to assure the best possible outcome.  If you have been arrested or accused of a crime, we offer a free consultation to examine your individual situation and determine the course of action to best protect your rights and your liberty.

How Incarceration Affects the Family

Some 186,000 kids in Illinois, 6 percent of the state’s child population, have a parent who has served time behind bars, according to the new study released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The growing number of children with an incarcerated parent is one of the most significant consequences of the record prison population in the county.

Having a criminal record affects the family in the following areas:

  • Parents with criminal records have lower earning potential, savings and assets. Criminal justice debts and child support drains savings and causes debt.
  • Parents with criminal records face barriers to education and training opportunities.
  • Barriers to public and private housing make family reunification difficult.
  • Family strength and stability. Financial and emotional stressors associated with parental criminal records challenge healthy relationships.

Solutions the Casey Foundation report recommends to ensure that a criminal record does not consign individuals and their children and family to a life of poverty include:

  • Make sentencing and prison-assignment decisions that take into account the impact on children and families.
  • Expand access to counseling, parenting courses, educational programs, job training, employment opportunities, affordable housing and other services for affected families.
  • Require courts to inform local social service providers when a parent is incarcerated so they can connect with impacted families.
  • Have correctional institutions adopt more family-friendly visitation policies.

What Illinois is Doing

Illinois recognizes the needs to control costs, eliminate prison overcrowding, and to build a system that rehabilitates and helps families stay together, starting at the arrest process and continuing after release from prison.  Steps the state has been taking to help incarcerated parents with children include:

  1. Children and Family Services Act (HB 5551/PA 99-0836): recognizes that incarcerated parents should be able to participate in case plan reviews for children in foster care.
  2. Project CHILD (Collaboration Helps Inmates Lessen Debt): a collaborative effort between the Department of Corrections (IDOC), the Attorney General, and Healthcare and Family Service’s Division of Child Support Enforcement. The purpose is to:
    1. Provide the incarcerated non-custodial parent (NCP) information on their current Illinois child support.
    2. Provide the NCP information on how to avert the accumulation of additional arrears.
    3. Assist the NCP in requesting a modification of their existing child support order.

In addition, IDOC conducts informational sessions for incarcerated parents to inform them of their obligations and options under the Illinois child support system.

  1. Re-Entry Illinois: provides free resources to people with criminal records to help find employment, educational opportunities, and housing services.
  1. The Illinois Institute for Community Law and Affairs: has a website for prisoners, the formerly incarcerated, and their families and friends to find and share information about improving conditions of incarceration and dealing with issues when released from prison.
  2. The City of Chicago Ex-Offenders Program provides:
    1. Job-readiness training
    2. Subsidized work experience
    3. Support services
  3. The National HIRE Network Illinois: is a directory of Illinois organizations to help people with     criminal records transition back into their community.
  4. The Crime Reduction Act of 2009: allows the IDOC to work with counties to send non-violent offenders to community-based programs instead of jail.  These programs are less expensive and more effective at rehabilitating these kinds of offenders than the state prison system.

Put Your Trust In Us — Contact Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. for a Free Consultation.

If you are accused of a crime in Illinois, you want to do everything possible to keep out of prison, especially if you have a family. You cannot do it alone – you need to hire the best criminal defense attorney possible who can advise you on your rights, influence charges against you, and may be able to keep you from being incarcerated.

The Illinois criminal defense lawyers at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. are skilled trial lawyers who believe each case is unique, with its own set of circumstances. We examine the facts, the individuals involved, and the evidence available, and work hand in hand with our clients throughout the criminal process to develop an effective defense strategy. Our goal is always to minimize the negative impact of the situation and to focus on protecting your freedoms, liberties and rights.

We are aggressive litigators, and we will work with you to answer all your questions and make sure you fully understand the facts surrounding your case.  We represent clients in DuPage County, Naperville, Aurora, Wheaton, Downers Grove and Bolingbrook, and the greater Chicagoland area.

Delaying can only make your situation worse, so call 630-305-0222 today to schedule your free initial consultation.