Program participants get ‘second chance’ at finding a job

Video from WALB
Published: Jul. 29, 2022 at 6:21 PM EDT
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VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - It’s been said that America is a nation of second chances. That’s especially important for people trying to get jobs.

Hundreds of people sat down with attorneys on Friday — free of charge — to expunge some things from their records that could keep them from moving forward in their lives. This was part of the “Second Chance” Career Fair.

Many who came told WALB News 10 they’re extremely happy and thankful that there are people who don’t mind giving them a second chance.

Shedrick Duncan is a proud participant in the "Second Chance" Career Fair.
Shedrick Duncan is a proud participant in the "Second Chance" Career Fair.(Source: WALB)

“Georgia legal services have given me a better chance of trying to help get things restricted off my record that was old,” said Shedrick Duncan, a program participant. “And those are some of the steps that I have to take to go further. And they’ve been a great benefit to me as far as helping me. I appreciate the invitation, and I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t if they need it.”

Record restriction and sealing restrict the public from seeing your official criminal history but remain for law enforcement to see.

“If someone is having trouble and they can’t get a job, they’ve been denied employment or better employment, they’ve been denied getting in a better housing situation they really need to come and take advantage of this,” said Sarah Anderson, with Georgia Legal Services. “The law is there to open up things for people so that they can get these records cleared.”

Sarah Anderson is the supervisor of the pro bono program at Georgia Legal Services.
Sarah Anderson is the supervisor of the pro bono program at Georgia Legal Services.(Source: WALB)

In 2013, Georgia changed the term “expunged” to restricted because expunged suggests that your record would be destroyed, but that’s not the case. And in August 2020, Gov. Brian Kemp expanded the restrictions and sealing of convictions in Georgia.

“A lot of times with the laws and rules and stuff change and especially in rural areas,” said JaTaryia Thomas, with Mental Health Center Leaders. “People don’t know. They don’t get the information. And even the agencies they don’t know the information.”

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