PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Saturday morning, the Peoria Public Schools’ Wraparound Center offered a free legal workshop to residents in the 61605 area.
Located in Peoria’s Trewyn Middle School, community members were educated on what legal services are offered through the center.
Illinois House Speaker Pro Tempore Jehan Gordon Booth (D-Peoria) opened the presentation with remarks. She explained that the funding for the Wraparound Center comes from the State of Illinois Restore, Reinvest, Renew (R3) Program. This is supported through legal cannabis sales in Illinois.
“Twenty-five percent of the tax revenue on all cannabis sales in the state of Illinois must be reinvested back into black and brown communities in zip codes just like this one,” Gordon-Booth said.
She said that the 61605 and 61603 zip codes in Peoria qualified as a “disproportionately impacted area.”
“As long as cannabis is sold, there will be specific dollars that go into our communities,” Gordon-Booth said. “It’s not reparations, but I call it a part of our reparations.”
Attorney Yolanda Riley led the presentation and also gave individual counseling and consultations to participants.
She said Peoria has one of the lowest expungement sealing rates outside of Cook County in the state.
“And those are, you know, hardest hit in the 61605, 61603 populations most likely won’t be able to afford an attorney to get those records removed off their background,” Riley said. “It affects their housing. It affects, obviously, job opportunities. And that’s the trickle-down effect on their children as well and how they can succeed in life.”
Riley said many community members are unaware of the services available to them.
“There have just been so many hardships, whether it’s systemic or otherwise, that keep a lot of people in certain neighborhoods ‘down,’ if you will,” Riley said. “It starts by these particular types of services that the Wraparound Center offers, including the legal services, so that they have an easier hand-up.”
Legal services through the Wraparound Center, Riley said, can span from family law (child support, custody, divorce, etc.), landlord-tenant negotiations, orders of protection, no-contact orders, and especially expungement sealing.
Any resident that missed the workshop can call 309-282-1919.