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Wisconsin Council on Offender Employment


 Andrew Nowlan                 John Tate II                 Kelli Thompson
           AG Designee          Parole Commission      State Public Defender

* See CQE application form and other resources at the bottom of the page

What is a CQE?
The CQE is a certificate for which an individual who is subject to a collateral sanction from a prior criminal conviction may obtain an order of limited relief from certain barriers to employment or licensing in the State of Wisconsin.

Am I eligible to apply for a CQE?

  • You must be a Wisconsin resident.

  • You must have been convicted in Wisconsin.

  • The conviction must have been for a crime other than a violent crime as defined in s. 165.84 (7).

  • You must have done one of the following:

    • (a) served at least 24 consecutive months of a term of confinement in prison in the Wisconsin state prisons

    • (b) served at least 12 consecutive months of a term of confinement in prison in the Wisconsin state prisons and at least 12 consecutive months of a term of extended supervision under s. 302.113.

  • You must provide written consent to the Department of Corrections to share information about your programs, treatment and evaluations with the Council on Offender Employment.

  • You must pay an application fee of $20, unless the fee is waived by the Council on Offender Employment.

How do employers benefit from a CQE?

  • Immune from liability for the intentional acts or omissions of the employee, acts of the employee that are outside of the course of the employee’s employment, and in any proceeding on a claim against the employer for negligent hiring, retention, training, or supervision of the employee.

  • CQE not admissible as evidence in a proceeding alleging an act of discrimination on the basis of conviction record.

  • CQE allows an employer or licensing agency discretion to individually assess an applicant’s suitability to hire.

Who issues the CQE?
The decision to issue a CQE is determined by the Council on Offender Employment, a three-person council comprised of the attorney general, or his or her designee; the state public defender, or his or her designee; and the chairperson of the parole commission, or his or her designee. The Council was created by the state Legislature in 2019 Wisconsin Act 123.

  • Petitioners must complete a petition that includes information regarding prior convictions, prior employment, treatment history and rehabilitation rationale.

  • CQE petitions are thoroughly reviewed by the Council on Offender Employment, with input from the Department of Corrections, to determine that the offender is not likely to pose a risk to public safety, that the CQE will substantially assist the offender in obtaining employment or occupational licensing or certification, and that the offender is less likely to commit an additional criminal offense if he or she obtains a CQE.

  • A CQE must be permanently revoked if the person is convicted of a new felony or a Class A or Class B misdemeanor.

CQE Resources
Application Form
Petitioner Handout
Employer Handout

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