ATLANTA - For more than a century, celebrations have honored Juneteenth, which falls on June 19, as the day enslaved people in Texas learned of their freedom -- years after slavery was abolished. This year, Juneteenth could prove even more personal for some in Fulton County.
County Solicitor General Keith Gammage, The Temple, Ebenezer Baptist Church, and the Georgia Justice Initiative are working together to expunge at least 300 nonviolent misdemeanor records from now until June 19.
That's the date Gammage intends to celebrate the expungement of hundreds of nonviolent criminal records.
"I think it's important to hear the sense of renewed hope to hear from a person who has their record expunged," he said. "What they feel is a new sense of hope to realize the American dream.
"All of the statistics suggest that when you remove nonviolent records from people," Gammage said. "Our communities will be safer because they're prepared for gainful employment."
A survey from HR.com finds 96% of employers perform background checks on applicants. A criminal record could make it difficult to compete for a position or even housing.
There are four million people in the state with a criminal record according to the Georgia Justice Project, and many of them could be eligible for expungement.
"Made possible through Senate Bill 288 allows now for even folks who were convicted of nonviolent misdemeanor offenses to be considered for record restriction," Gammage said.
Applications are open now through the end of the week.
You may be eligible for restriction if:
- You were arrested in a Fulton County jurisdiction on a misdemeanor charge
- The offense was not referred to a prosecuting attorney for prosecution
- The prosecuting attorney does not move forward with the charge or dismisses the charge
- The applicant has a first offender/ conditional discharge conviction that was not previously restricted; or
- The applicant has a conviction for certain misdemeanor offenses and meets restriction criteria
This isn't the first time local leaders have tried to give deserving people a second chance. There was a mass expungement event four years ago. Since then, about 3,000 records have been expunged, Gammage says.
"I think what it says is that the system, prosecutors, faith community, and others are here to give you a second chance if you earn it," he said.
Mistakes that have haunted people for years, could surrender before summer's end.
You have until the end of this week to apply for the Juneteenth expungement.
To apply, click here or call 404-612-4827.
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