“Just simply having to check the box, ‘Yes, I was convicted of a crime’ is going to foreclose you for some jobs,” said Executive Director of Legal Services Dan Wichmer.
However, thanks to a new Missouri law, Wichmer said qualifying indivduals can now receive a second chance.
“People always talk about government assistance, you know,” said Wichmer. “Well, this is an opportunity for people to start the process of standing on their own.”
Individuals convicted of most nonviolent, low-level offenses can now seal the public record of those offenses.
Local legal experts are using this new law to benefit those in poverty who are trying to better themselves.
“Things that had occurred in their youth are coming back to haunt them later on in life, when they’re trying to get back into society,” said Wichmer.
However, Crista Hogan of the Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association said this is not a ‘get out of trouble free’ card.
“It’s basically one shot for people who maybe made a mistake a long time ago and haven’t since,” said Hogan.
Hogan added having a tough on crime mindset has collateral consequences, “not just for individuals and their families, but for our society.”
Webster County Sheriff, Roye Cole, said while he understands everyone makes mistakes, a person should serve their entire sentence before receiving a clean slate.
“I know in today’s day and time that doesn’t necessarily happen,” said Webster. But, I do believe that once a person’s actually done their time and served their sentence, they should get a fresh start.”
Currently, there are more than 20 local attorneys volunteering to help with springfield’s clean slate project.
The next “Clean Slate Clinic” will be June 5 at 6:00 p.m.
Click here to register for the clinic.