By Associated Press - Monday, November 21, 2016

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois is trying to open job opportunities for people with criminal records by making changes to paperwork for professional licenses.

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation announced Monday it has made the process more welcoming. The department is using less formal legal language in cover letters.

And the department is making it clear to applicants with criminal convictions that prospects are good for getting a license. State officials say fewer than 1 percent of applicants with a criminal conviction are denied licensure.

Earlier this year, Illinois began allowing prisoners nearing their release or parole dates to meet with a licensing board by video conference after they’ve completed coursework for barbering and cosmetology.

Last month, the first ex-offender received a cosmetology license under the streamlined inmate licensure program.

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