/You’re still doing time when they let you out’ New expungement law gives thousands hope for a fresh start

You’re still doing time when they let you out’ New expungement law gives thousands hope for a fresh start

Andrew Dawson’s conviction for burglary has hung over him even though it’s been twenty years since his release. Dawson stated, “The system, even though you do your sentence, they still let you go.” Dawson, a 60-year-old Yazoo City resident, has been a truck driver most of his adult life. He applied for a Missouri job a few years back. Although he was qualified, the interview went well. However, he wasn’t granted the job due to his criminal record. Missouri, unlike Mississippi, has not passed any laws that limit the time a background check can be carried out. These laws restrict the time period for background checks to seven years depending on the salary. Dawson’s criminal record, which is decades old, can prevent someone from finding meaningful employment. He claims that the word “felon”, is a constant in your vocabulary. It’s a brand. Just like you put a brand on a cow by running it through a chute. It’s the same brand that we get. Dawson stated that it’s the same brand that I wear today. The Criminal Justice Reform Act gives Mississippians like Dawson the opportunity to get rid of that brand. The Criminal Justice Reform Act, which was passed in the 2019 legislative session, took effect July 1, and dramatically increased the number of crimes that are eligible for expungement. A sealed record can still be found, but all evidence of the expunged charges are deleted from public records. Expunging a criminal record is not the same as sealing it. Both should not be mentioned in job interviews, however, sealed records cannot be accessed without a court order. A short list of criminal offenses could have been expunged in the past: false pretenses and larceny; bad checks; possession of controlled substances or paraphernalia; malicious mischief, shoplifting; All felons can now have one expungement provided that the charges don’t fall within this list: * Crimes involving violence
* Arson, first degree
* Trafficking controlled substances
* Third, fourth and subsequent DUI offenses_x000D
* Felon in possession a firearm
* Voyeurism
* Witness intimidation and misdemeanor expungements were also expanded. Expuncement was not available for a person with a first misdemeanor. After two years of good conduct, anyone can petition the court for an expungement of a subsequent conviction. Dawson was among the people who filled the courtroom at the Hinds County Chancery Court’s third floor for a free civil legal aid clinic on expungements on July 26. Gayla Carpenter-Sanders is the executive director and general attorney of the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project. She stated that there is always a need to provide access to justice. Access to Justice offers legal resources free of charge for anyone trying to solve legal problems without the assistance of a lawyer. Access to Justice Commission and Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project are working together to provide free civil legal assistance clinics to residents in all 82 states. This is similar to what they did in 2018. People like Roy Nations welcome such services. Nations stated, “When you are already poor and they’re garnishing you wages, you don’t have the money for a lawyer so it is a great idea.” Brookhaven native, 59, spent a year in prison for accessory to grand theft when he was just 20 years old. He is ready to move on. Nations stated, “It has affected me with jobs. If I’m pulled over, they’ll automatically state ‘well he was a felon’ which makes it a little more difficult to deal with.” An earlier conviction can also affect younger people. Mary Gregory, a Pearl native, was denied a job in Big Lots’ sales department because of a 2013 felony larceny conviction. “I am a thief because i stole once when i was 18 years old,” Gregory said. Gregory stated that Gregory was wrong five years ago. Gregory likes warehouse work so she is interested in the Nissan Canton Plant once her record clears. Carpenter-Sanders stated that they could do the same thing every other month in Hinds County, and get the same turnout. On Oct. 18, another expungement clinic is scheduled at the Hinds County Chancery Court.