If you are or have recently been in jail, you might be looking for help finding housing, finding a job, or getting other community services. There are many resources available to you in Illinois that are listed below.
Re-Entry Illinois provides free resources to people with criminal records. This website will help you find employment, educational opportunities, and housing services. Re-entry Illinois also provides tips and tricks for getting a job, finding housing, receiving public benefits, as well as other support services. Re-Entry Illinois has a comprehensive county-specific directory of resources.
Illinois Re-Entry Resources is a statewide database of employment, housing, substance abuse, legal services, health, and government resources for people with criminal records.
Re-Entry Employment Service Program
The Re-Entry Employment Service Program (RESP) assists people with criminal records in finding employment.
The program partners you with a RESP liaison. The RESP liaison interviews you and identifies for you any hurdles that may come up in your job search. The liaison also helps you with your Illinois JobLink registration and will provide you with job referrals. Make sure to ask your liaison whether an employer you are interested in working for would be eligible for any hiring incentives by employing you.
RESP also provides opportunities to participate in job readiness workshops and services.
Safer Foundation offers a variety of free services designed to help people with criminal records find employment and fully rejoin their community.
- Orientation, intake, and retention
- Adult transition centers
- Green Jobs Programs
- Transitional Employment Program
- Faith- and Community-Based Initiative which focuses on the Chicago neighborhoods most affected by reentry including Englewood, East Garfield Park, Auburn Gresham, Austin, Harvey, and Maywood.
- GED programming
- Job readiness
- PACE Institute
- Youth Education Program
- Statewide Partnership to Increase Safety through Employment (SPISE)
- Addiction prevention and education
- Anger management counseling
- Family inclusive case management
- Job appropriate clothing and transportation
- Community based mentoring and legal assistance
For people struggling to find adequate living arrangements, Safer Foundation's Housing Initiative can assist you.
Safer Foundation also offers This Blunt's Not for You, a program that helps participants overcome habitual marijuana use in order to become viable candidates on the job market.
Illinois Institute for Community Law and Affairs
The Illinois Institute for Community Law and Affairs website offers a place for prisoners, the formerly incarcerated, and their families and friends to find and share information about how to improve the conditions of incarceration and deal with the issues faced by those released from prison.
The site provides an extensive list of organizations providing assistance in:
- General Support
St. Leonard's Ministry
St. Leonard's Ministry provides an array of programs designed to help individuals recently released from prison make the transition to successful, independent living.
The Michael Barlow Center of St. Leonard's Ministry provides:
- Educational opportunities
- Training programs
- Employment advancement
The Center offers educational programs in adult literacy and high school preparation, as well as an adult high school program and one-on-one tutoring. The Center offers training for job preparation in areas such as building maintenance and food service. After completing one or more of these programs, the Center refers you to a Job Developer. The Center's Job Developer will assess your personal skills and corresponding employment opportunities.
St. Leonard's Ministry provides interim housing and support services for formerly incarcerated men returning to the community from Illinois prisons. St. Leonard's House provides:
- Individual and group psychological counseling and group activities
- Programs to promote the development of life skills
- On-site intensive out-patient substance abuse treatment
- Addiction counseling and relapse prevention
- Assistance in connecting with community support services
- Housing placement assistance
- Education and employment services
- Social and recreational opportunities
This information can be found at the St. Leonard's House website.
Guidebook for incarcerated veterans
The Guidebook for Incarcerated Veterans in Illinois is designed to help incarcerated veterans plan for their release. The guidebook includes contact information for a number of organizations that provide services for:
- Substance abuse
- Legal assistance
- Benefit assistance
City of Chicago Ex-Offenders Program
The City of Chicago Ex-Offenders Program provides help for residents of Chicago with criminal records. The program provides:
- Job-readiness training
- Subsidized work experience
- Support services
The site also includes links to news, alerts, and other useful material.
National HIRE Network
The National HIRE Network: Illinois is a directory of Illinois organizations, which may be useful for people with criminal records in their transition back into their community. Contact information is provided for:
- Department of Labor
- Criminal Record Repository
- State Attorney General
- Department of Corrections
- Department of Parole
- Legal Assistance
- Local Service Providers
Lawyers working with clients who have criminal records
Re-entry resources for attorneys is a page for lawyers working with clients who have criminal records. This page provides tips for checking records for misinformation, expunging and sealing records, and helping clients find jobs, housing, and assistance in paying off court debts.
Prisoner Entrepreneur Education Program
The Prisoner Entrepreneur Education Program assists people who are currently in jail. This program is run by the Illinois Department of Corrections and teaches useful business skills to inmates. The goal is to help inmates succeed at a job after they are released. Inmates who successfully complete the program are awarded a Certificate of Completion.
What does the program teach?
The program includes many classes that teach inmates useful business skills, such as:
- Computer skills
- Creating a business plan
- Public speaking
- Realistic goal setting
The program does not include employment while in jail unless:
- The employment is related to the purpose and curriculum of the program; and
- You consent in writing to the terms, working conditions, and wages of the employment.
Who can participate in the program?
You can participate in the program only if the following conditions are met:
- You are within 3 years of being released;
- You have not been disciplined within the past year;
- You have a high school diploma or GED;
- You have not been convicted of a major sex offense, child sex offense, or child pornography offense;
- You are not currently affiliated with a gang; and
- You are committed to personal change.
How does the program help you after you are released?
The program may provide post-release help to inmates who have received a Certificate of Completion. Post-release help may include:
- Drafting a resume and cover letter
- Searching for employment
- Networking events
- Mock interviews