Paying A Debt To Society That Is Never Paid Off

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Decatur – At 19 years old Lisa Creason walked unarmed into a local fast food restaurant and made the mistake of her life.

“Demanded the money in the register,” Creason told WAND’s Doug Wolfe at her Decatur home.  “The cashier refused and I fled the scene.”

Creason, who will turn 43 on Saturday, needed the money to feed her young daughter.  She was sentenced to 3 years in prison.

Fast forward more than 20 years to 2016.  Creason is supporting three children and working two jobs.  Even though she has a clean record during the past 2 decades her conviction still haunts her.

Creason went to nursing school.  She passed her classes and was ready to get licensed as an RN.  But the Illinois legislature changed laws regarding licensing in the healthcare field even though she was a non-violent offender. 

“The state of Illinois sent me a nice letter and told me I couldn’t take my licensure test,” Creason remembered.  “And I said, hey what can I do?  And they chuckled and told me to change the law.”

That is what Creason is doing working with the help of the Illinois Policy Institute and several lawmakers including State Senator Andy Manar, (D) Bunker Hill.  Senate Bill 42 would allow people like Lisa who were non-violent, and have kept their records clean, to finally get the license they need to have a good job and make a living wage to support their families.

“Research shows that people who find employment after release from prison are substantially less likely to return later on,” stated Bryant Jackson-Green, criminal justice policy analyst for the Illinois Policy Institute.  Jackson-Green says Illinois taxpayers could save tens of millions of dollars if recidivism is reduced. “The more we have working, forming their families, in the workforce paying taxes, the less crime we’ll have because they’ll be gainfully employed.”

The Illinois House is expected to take up the measure in April.

(Senate Bill 42, SB 42)  (Pictured: Lisa Creason of Decatur)

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