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Michael Sweig, JD

Michael Sweig, JD
Founder at Citizens' Institute for Law & Public Policy 

Public Interest Lobbyist, Teacher, Author, Speaker, Policy Consultant. Founder, Citizens' Institute for Law & Public Policy and Legal Studies Professor (2000 - 2012). JD, De Paul University College of Law (1986). BA, Economics. University of California, Santa Cruz. (1980).

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Mr. Sweig is a public interest advocate, author, teacher and speaker. He is Founder of two nonprofits: Citizens' Institute for Law & Public Policy, formerly The Institute for People with Criminal Records (est. 2010), and the recently launched, which registers citizens with criminal records to vote and trains them to lobby. Mr. Sweig is also the the entrepreneur and innovator of the social enterprise, Citizens’ Institute School. The Chicago Tribune profiled Mr. Sweig in "ʺFrom Practicing Law to Changing it,"ʺ by Dawn Turner Trice – Chicago Tribune August 1, 2010.

Mr. Sweig’s most recent policy and advocacy success is Illinois Senate Bill 3267 ((Public Act 098‑1114), which he authored: "The Illinois Incentivized Education and Family Support for Community Corrections Amendment." Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed the bill into law on August 26, 2014, and it became effective immediately. The new law 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).

During the upcoming legislative sessions of 2015, and using lobbyists with criminal records, Citizens’ Institute and its lobbying organization,, plan to introduce similar versions of this new Illinois law in 10 states where non‑incarcerated citizens with criminal records can vote.

Mr. Sweig’s current programmatic work is BLUEPRINT FOR A PERFECT REENTRY, comprised of leading the movement, and a campaign entitled "Unlock a Future with Education," which seeks nationwide sponsorship by private donors to fund annual scholarships for citizens with criminal backgrounds to achieve high school and GED readiness.

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 Mr. Sweig urged executive branch removal of the criminal history inquiry box from State of Illinois employment applications, in his law review article entitled: "ʺMOVING THE BOX"ʺ BY EXECUTIVE ORDER IN ILLINOIS, DePaul Journal for Social Justice, Volume 4, Number 1, Fall 2010, 17.

While Chicago’s Safer Foundation''s Public Policy Liaison (2008‑2010), he was the principal lobbyist, co‑author and liaison to Governor Pat Quinn'ʹs policy staff for Illinois Senate Bill 1050, which Governor Quinn called “noble legislation,” and which became law effective January 1, 2010. The new law vastly empowers thousands of people with criminal records to bypass the Prisoner Review Board and petition the court that convicted them for a Certificate of Rehabilitation, to use in obtaining occupational licensing and substantive employment requiring good moral character.

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, former 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 voluntarily relinquished his law license and has been disbarred on consent from the Illinois Supreme Court since 1997, when he also turned himself in and pleaded guilty to the related financial felony he committed in 1995. Mr. Sweig has been eligible to petition for reinstatement of his law license since 2001. Mr. Sweig'ʹs own experience dealing with discrimination and prejudice against people with criminal records taught him that his professional training and education were not lost because of his felony conviction. He has dedicated himself to the improvement of life for people with criminal records.

He is author of "In Felony's Mirror: Reflections on Pain and Promise," a memoir with commentary on legal ethics and restorative justice for white collar crime. The book is for policy-makers, criminal justice, business and legal ethics classrooms.

Mr. Sweig was a legal studies professor for over a decade, primarily at Roosevelt University’s Heller College of Business, where he taught from 2003 – 2010, and at Metropolitan State University of Denver (2011-2012). He has been a Staff Editor for the Journal of Legal Studies Education, and a reviewer for the Journal of Legal Studies in Business, the American Business Law Journal, and the Journal of Labor and Employment Law. He is a member of the Academy of Legal Studies in Business.Following are Mr. Sweig's recent publications and papers.

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; Supplement 2012

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); Supplement 2012

Moving-the-Box by Executive Order in Illinois | DePaul Journal for Social Justice, Volume 4, Number 1, Fall 2010, 17.

Mr. Sweig recently appeared in CCTV America May 2014 documentary: Prison Programs Trying to Help Inmates Back Into Society. He is a 2014 and 2013 Finalist for the UK’s International Redemption and Justice Awards.

Mr. Sweig received his B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and his J.D. from De Paul University College of Law, where he was Managing Editor of Lead Articles for the De Paul Law Review, 1985 – 1986.

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