Michael Sweig, JD is a justice reform advocate and decade long legal studies professor. Mr. Sweig’s recent legislative work is Illinois bill SB 3267, which he authored: The Illinois Incentivized Education and Family Support Corrections Code Amendment. This bill, which Governor Quinn signed into law August 26, 2014, rewards probationers with mandatory time credits to reduce their sentence in exchange for educational achievements, e.g.: high school diploma (90 day reduction), Associate’s Degree, Career Certificate or Vocational Training (120 day reduction), and college degree (180 day reduction).
Mr. Sweig’s current programmatic work is focused on development and delivery of affordable, reentry-oriented education for people with criminal records and their families, ranging from grammar school through college. Mr. Sweig has implemented this initiative through the social enterprise Citizens’ Institute School.
Legislators and others recognize Michael Sweig’s speaking, teaching and advocacy skills. “Your passion to help people with criminal records has been an inspiration and a contribution to renew, rebuild, and restore the nation.”
The Chicago Tribune has profiled Mr. Sweig in “From Practicing Law to Changing it”, by Dawn Turner Trice – Chicago Tribune August 1, 2010. Mr. Sweig violated trust account rules, voluntarily relinquished his law license in 1997 and pleaded guilty to a felony. His book about the experience is “In Felony’s Mirror: Reflections on Pain and Promise.” Read more.
At the UK’s Redemption and Justice Awards dinner held in England in October of 2014 and 2013, Mr. Sweig was named as one of three International Award Finalists for his work as Founder of the Citizens’ Institute, the Citizens’ Institute School, and 20MillionVote.org.
Also on October 3, 2013, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed the “Ban the Box” Administrative Order, for which Mr. Sweig had published the legal and academic support, when Sweig urged executive branch removal of the criminal history inquiry box from State of Illinois employment applications, in his law review article entitled: ” ‘MOVING THE BOX’ BY EXECUTIVE ORDER IN ILLINOIS,” 4 DePaul Journal of Social Justice 1, Fall 2010.
In early 2012, Mr. Sweig co-authored the Restoration for People with Criminal Records Act, which unanimously passed the Colorado Senate Judiciary Committee on February 13, 2012, and later passed the Colorado Senate unanimously. The bill, SB 105, provided the ability for convicting courts to relieve probationers and those who have completed their criminal sentences from “collateral consequences of conviction” in employment, licensing, housing and other barriers. The bill would have removed from a person’s criminal record arrests for which there were no charges or convictions, and would seal petty offenses not previously sealable. The bill died in the Colorado House but will be reintroduced in 2013. We are grateful to bill sponsor, Senator Pat Steadman.
Mr. Sweig was the principal advocate for an Illinois bill which Governor Pat Quinn called “noble” legislation, which in January, 2010, put Illinois in a class by itself for the sweeping remedies it provides people with criminal records to prove their rehabilitation, and the absolute protections it gives employers to hire them.
Illinois Senate President John Cullerton appointed Mr. Sweig, in September 2010, to the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority Task Force on Inventorying Employment Restrictions.
In September 2009, Illinois State Representative Constance A. “Connie” Howard, (D, 34th), presented Mr. Sweig with a Criminal Justice Reform Advocacy award for “ ‘his invaluable contribution to assist people who seek a second chance to become productive citizens.”
Mr. Sweig taught most recently at Metropolitan State University of Denver (2011-2012). He taught at Roosevelt University’s Heller College of Business from 2003-2010, and served as the Public Policy Liaison for Chicago’s Safer Foundation before he founded the Institute for People with Criminal Records.
Here are Mr. Sweig’s recent publications:
“In Felony’s Mirror” is Michael Sweig’s memoir with essays on legal ethics and restorative justice. Read more.
- “Moving the Box” by Executive Order in Illinois | De Paul Journal for Social Justice, 4 DePaul J. for Soc. Just. 1:17 Fall 2010. (with co-author Melissa McClure).
- Blueprint for Progress: How Illinois Empowers Rehabilitated People with Criminal Records | Ch. 8, ISSUES WITH CRIMINAL RECORDS, 2010 Supplement, Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education | Summer 2010
- Beyond Legal Mechanisms – Employment, Housing and Other Related Critical Supports | Ch. 6, ISSUES WITH CRIMINAL RECORDS, 2010 Supplement, Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education | Summer 2010 (with co-author, Jodina Hicks)
Given his education and experience, Mr. Sweig considers himself one of the most fortunate, advantaged and privileged Americans with a criminal record. Mr. Sweig is disbarred on consent from the Illinois Bar since 1998 (eligible to reapply since 2001), and disbarred from the United States Supreme Court. He turned himself in and pleaded guilty to a felony for a resolved 1995 trust account violation and served a 1 yr home confinement and 48 month probation with 500 hours of community service.