SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– A team of law experts is hoping to give those with a criminal record a better shot at employment.
Legal Services of Southern Missouri, LSSM, an organization providing legal help to people at or below the poverty level, says its “Clean Slate Project” would give those who have previously been convicted of a single non-violent crime a chance at having their record expunged, making them a better candidate for job opportunities.
According to LSSM Executive Director, Dan Wichmer, the project started when he and his team noticed a lot of their clients, many of whom were attempting to get their lives on track, were being turned down for job opportunities due to previous convictions. Many of the convictions were for small-scale crimes.
For example, these were people who, according to Wichmer, at one point owed a lot of money in child support, paid their debt, but were now carrying around a blemished criminal record.
“So to some extent,” Wichmer says, “things that had occurred in their youth, and mostly it was in their early youth, their late teens and early twenties, was coming back to haunt them later on in life when they were trying to get back into society.”
Now, LSSM is teaming up with the Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association, an organization Wichmer says brings with it a level legal expertise his team couldn’t provide when it comes to expungement services.
Now, individuals making less than $15,600 a year or a family of four bringing in $32,600 a year could qualify for free legal representation if they’re interested in this expungement process.
However, Wichmer says there are some legal fees and pressures someone looking for record expungement will have to endure.
“I think it’s important for people to know that it is a process. It’s something you can’t really do on your own,” he says. “It’s not something that’s going to take ten days. If you engage in the process you’ve got one shot. There are some expenses… but it is a process that’s worthwhile for people who are looking to clear of convictions of crimes that have been there, that haven’t done anything since then. We think it’s a good project.”
See what charges can be expunged. Follow this link.