MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – There are a lot of people in Memphis who have made mistakes, legal mistakes. They’ve paid the price and now they just want to get back on with living.
It’s not easy.
Every job application in the world has that one question: have you been convicted of a crime?
Answer yes, it can stop everything.
“There’s a financial barrier to people trying to get expunged,” says Shelby County Criminal Court Clerk Heidi Kuhn, “… and a lot of people really want the opportunity to either go to school, or get a job, and this just helps them reduce the financial barriers.”
When the expungement program began, it cost folks close to $500. But the State removed its fees this year. Shelby County still has a $100 fee.
That is still a pretty good chunk of change for some people. So that’s why the city council put up $75,000 to help pay for a clean slate.
“I’m really excited,” Clerk Kuhn says. “We’ve done so many expungements. We’re really helping the community, and this will offer us an opportunity. The city council has given us $75,000. It’s never been done before for our office and we’re going to help a lot of people.”
This expungement program has evolved into an anti-crime project.
Once a person was convicted, that was it. Your record followed you everywhere. What would sometimes happen is the person, not able to get a job, would go back to crime.
It is why the clerk’s office and the criminal justice advocate organization Just City are involved.
Josh Spickler of Just City says, “One of our feature programs is the Clean Slate Fund, where we help people determine whether they’re eligible to have their criminal record cleared. If they are eligible, we will pay the fee.”