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Biography

• NOT A KNOW IT ALL, A LEARN IT ALL!
Upbeat versatile Server, Bartender, and Assistant Manager seeking to transfer my skills of data entry, bookkeeping, and scheduling in a new career and challenging position. 7-year background of creating regular customer base and boosting establishment reputation through delivery of unmatched service. Writing is a passion of mine because I'm always gaining knowledge through my research and sharing my experiences with others. Its a hobby of mine that releases my inner creativity. I love to write about anything but my favorite subjects are Business and marketing, family, life and love, parenting and education.

EDUCATION:  Associates in Business Administration from College of the Albemarle BLOG:  None provided
CERTIFICATIONS:  None provided CURRICULUM VITAE:  None provided

Niches

  • Arts & Design

Writing Sample

 

Felony Expungement; Reforming Laws for Personal Growth

Citizens especially younger ones with a felony on their record are unable to get into nursing programs and the like that involve government jobs and ones that are in high demand. They are also held back from getting a job promotion they deserve and probably already do the work the promotion would include. They must work minimum wage jobs while their knowledge is just sitting there wasting away. Not only dose a felony conviction hold a person back from employment and continuing education it also effects renting a nice house or anything that requires a background check. Expungement is where courts seal a person’s record so no one but law enforcement can see the previous charges and the laws on this subject have stayed the same for many of decades which has made it almost impossible for an ordinary person to be able to get their record sealed. The price for attorneys, to file the petition, and any other attached fees were through the roof. Even if you had the money to afford all the fees you had to wait a minimum of fifteen years in most states. Luckily courts and state officials are now reforming the laws to give people a second chance that are reforming themselves. Felony expungement is becoming an easier process due to the high volume of felons in America unable to gain employment, people advocating for themselves and proving they deserve a second chance, states reforming their laws, the change in cost and time it takes, and the availability of resources and assistance to help with the process

I am personally struggling with this topic that’s why I decided to conduct this research so I could help myself and anyone else that is in the same boat as myself. This topic is kind of wishy-washy among citizens and kind of made me sway against this topic through a broad search but once I began to dig deeper, I saw that the pros outweigh the cons. I feel strongly about this topic because of the hardships it’s caused in my life for something that I did when I was only seventeen years old. I feel like I deserve a second chance after all the work I’ve put into myself, my work, and my community. At first, I let that felony hold me back, but I then realized that moving forward was the only option. I let people judge me for my background check and got denied for many jobs, the course of study I wanted to pursue, and a decent place to live. I didn’t give up after all the negativity and once I obtained a well-paying job and a nice place to live, I proved to my employer and landlord that I wasn’t just another statistic and that I wanted better in life than what my record showed. I believe that anyone that has got their life together and showed they deserve an expungement should get their day in court without waiting fifteen years and spending thousands and thousands of dollars.         

The amount of American’s that are felons and unable to gain employment is a reason reformed expungement laws have happened and continue to be a topic of change.

“Gaining employment is one of the most crucial steps for returning citizens to take in order to regain stability in their lives. Yet, it remains one of the biggest obstacles. Employers are often wary of hiring persons with criminal records due to fear of liability and the social stigma that frequently attaches to formerly incarcerated individuals. While some remedies exist for returning citizens to clear their record from public view and (in theory) get a clean slate, they are inadequate.” (Employment discrimination on)

The number of felons is continuing to go up day by day leaving less people to have gainful employment due to employer discrimination. “Employment barriers are perhaps the most damaging. As mentioned elsewhere,28 states have statutes barring the hiring of—and regulations prohibiting licensing of—those with criminal convictions for certain positions (pg.30 Murray.” Under the new laws state officials came up with banning the box which is where employers will no longer be able to ask you to check if you are a felon on an application. “Using methods to control for selection bias and the effects of changes in the economy in our data, we find evidence that: (1) the record clearing intervention boosts participants’ employment rates and average real earnings, and (2) people seek record clearing remedies after a period of suppressed earnings (Selbin).” Employment is probably the most important thing that court and government officials are seeking expungement reform for so that there can be more working people in the world.

People are more readily advocating for themselves now that the expungement laws are changing and are more possible. “It is also easier to obtain expungement if felons can document how they have improved  themselves since their release through education, training and work experience (How can a)” Felons showing that they have reformed their selves and provided positivity to the community is great to have when applying for expungement. It is critical for a person to be able to show they have stuck through all the hardships and maintained steady employment, continued their education in some way shape or form, and sustained from any other legal issues when petitioning for an expungement. Citizens with a felony have shown that even if they can’t get into their program of study that they wish they are continuing their education in other areas that can help them move up the totem pole in their workplace or to gain better employment elsewhere. It isn’t cheap to go to school and continue your education and most people tend to qualify for some kind of assistance like financial aid or scholarships. FSAFA where financial aid is provided by the government is also available for some class of felons.

“ Well, the Federal Student Aid department has what is known as the FAFSA Drug Conviction Worksheet, which can be completed to determine your eligibility to receive financial assistance with a criminal record. Once you determine if you will have an issue with obtaining government financial aid, you can then determine the next steps of action to get into a school and following your career goals (How Record Expungement).”

 Also, felons are getting their foot in the door with the minimum wage jobs they are offered and sticking to them putting in years just to prove stable employment. People advocating for themselves should say more than any conviction dose. It took seconds or minutes to obtain a felony charge but reforming yourself takes years so that right there should say enough for itself.

States are now reforming their laws on expungement of felonies after it being the same for so long.  “But in the past decade, due to heightened interest in criminal law reform—especially the perceived injustice of certain collateral consequences inhibiting reentry the effects of mass criminalization, and the technology-driven inability of ex-offenders to move on—several states have enacted specific laws providing for expungement or sealing remedies. While late to the game, even some members of Congress have followed suit (pg. 362 Murray).” Courts are finally budging on laws that have stood for decades leaving felons the opportunity to file for and gain expungement. There are some laws that people have been convicted under that no longer exist or have changed so much they aren’t even the same law anymore. That is another reason that courts and government officials are reforming these laws because people are being labeled felons for something that doesn’t even exist anymore. A lot of the change is mostly containing things concerning the marijuana boom and all the laws that have been modified since in a lot of states it is now a legal substance. Not all states are moving in the same direction or at the same pace for such laws, but they are all moving in the positive direction. This was written in 2017 when the reform first started to take off for the long run.

“Important new record-sealing schemes were enacted in Illinois, Montana and New York, and nine other states either relaxed eligibility requirements or otherwise supplemented their existing sealing or expungement authorities to make relief more broadly available at an earlier date.  Of these nine, the most ambitious reforms were enacted by Nevada, which was one of several states that created a presumption in favor of relief for eligible persons (Sentencing Law and Policy).”

As the years have passed since 2017 so have better laws on this topic. More states are starting to slowly pick up on the changes other states have made making it a movement for almost the whole USA.

Now that expungement is becoming more common and allowable there is more help and resources for a person to get help with the process.  There are online sources, legal aid, and clinics held by attorneys and/or government officials that are trying to help felons clean their slate. “Use the website LawHelp.org to access local legal-aid programs in your area. The local legal-aid programs are both publicly and privately funded and will provide you with free legal advice and represent you in court if expungement policies in your state require this (How To Get).” Legal aid for felony convictions are even possible through free or subsidized help that shows a major turning point for expungement when the government is providing help with sealing records for people. As I said before expungement was almost impossible 4-5 years ago now there are so many kinds of programs and people that are willing to help you fight through your battle of expungement. Along with all the human resources one can seek out they can also get lots of information and even figure out how to file a petition for themselves through the internet.

Change in the cost and time it takes under the new laws are making it easier and feasible for a person to get an expungement. New bills are being made by state representatives on this subject more now than ever. “House Bill (HB) 1041 seeks to make significant changes to our felony and misdemeanor vacate laws. It would make it easier to get a Certificate of Discharge. This new law would eliminate payment of court costs and other assessments from eligibility for a Certificate of Discharge. A person would be eligible for a Certificate of Discharge after paying restitution only (Legislator to Consider).” The costs for expungement are changing so it will be feasible and easier for an average person to get their record sealed. Now that expungement is more common and sought after extra frequently the process has become much faster because the courts deal with them more often. They are aware of what they are dealing with and have their guidelines in place for what they are expecting out of an individual that approaches them for expungement.

However, there are many people that believe once you have been convicted of a felony you should keep that on your record forever. Many argue that if a felon were to get an expungement people like employers and landlords would have no idea that individual committed such crime. They wouldn’t know to be cautious with a person that had an expungement of a felony of breaking and entering if it doesn’t show up on a person’s record. That could lead to lots of problems for people such as landlords and employers and make them over cautious people because they never know who they are dealing with. “In an era of heightened security concerns, easily available data, and increased criminal background checks, these records act as a substantial barrier to gainful employment and other opportunities. Harvard sociologist Devah Pager describes people with criminal records as "marked" with a negative job credential (Selbinpg8).” People rely on background checks to be able to have some insight on the person they are inquiring about to see they are a qualified candidate and to take that away from one could make people feel let down by the government. If the courts thought a felon should deserve a second chance, they should have done something about it at sentencing and not wait 7 or so years later to change it.

Even though this may be true, expungement of a felony is a better choice. When a person can prove they’re an overall reformed law-abiding citizen they should get the chance to file a petition for an expungement. “More research needs to be done to understand the durability of the positive impact and its effects in different local settings and labor markets, but these findings suggest that the record clearing intervention makes a meaningful difference in employment outcomes for people with criminal records (Selbinpg13).  Expungement will open more doors for everyone. The unemployment rates will go down, there will be more people to qualify and work for the jobs that are in high demand and in need of employees, and it will give the housing market more people to rent to. It will also make a person feel like they have a chance at life without being judged about something that could have happened fifteen years ago. Reformed citizens are better for the world because they work harder at walking a straight line once they’ve been through so much as a felon and were able to get their record expunged. Expungement is a movement for the better but only for certain felons. Murder charges and stuff like Is not what courts are aiming to qualify for an expungement they are still trying to keep all citizens safe but giving the lower-class felons a chance.

Therefore, Felony expungement is becoming an easier process due to the high volume of felons in America unable to gain employment, people advocating for themselves and proving they deserve a second chance, states reforming their laws, the change in cost and time it takes, and the availability of resources and assistance to help with the process. By no means is anyone saying expungement should be an easy process that any type of felon can successfully gain. This approach is more about low grade felons that have put time and effort into changing their lives that deserve a second chance. All in all, if a felon has effectively reformed from the wrongs, they once committed they should get their day in court to be able to keep moving forward in life.

Annotated Bibliography

C M van der Bank. "justification for Expungement Legislation in South Africa: Expungement and Competing Constitutional Rights." International Journal of Arts & Sciences, vol. 9, no. 1, 2016, pp. 571. Accessed 9 March 2019

            The United States is not the only country facing issues with ex-felons and expungement. This source shows that South Africa is also a country working on reforming their laws on expungement. I got this information to show that it’s not only a problem in the US but other countries as well.

“The Act, inter alia, deals with the expungement of certain minor criminal records. The Portfolio Committee concluded that the expungement of criminal records is a complex matter that requires a balance between the rights of citizens to be protected against criminals and the recognition that having a criminal record can cause undue hardship for an individual.”

“In applying the above constitutional principles to the relevant legislation, the SALRC proposes that: … – the extent to which an applicant has rehabilitated; an application for expungement should only be viable after serving of the sentences concerned; and a limitation to the number of times an application for expungement could be made.”

 “Felons in the Workforce, What Are You to Do?” International Due Diligence Organization, 1 Feb. 2013, www.international-due-diligence.org/felons-in-the-workforce/. Accessed 9 March 2019

This source provides information on actual numbers and percentages about felons in the         USA. This will be used to fill in information and provide accurate numbers.

“In 2010 it is estimated that 19.8 million people representing 8.6% of the population of the United States have a felony conviction. This is almost double what it was in 1980”

“How Can a Felon Get Their Record Expunged?” JobsForFelonsHub.com, 4 Apr. 2017, www.jobsforfelonshub.com/can-felon-get-record-expunged/. Accessed 9 March 2019

            Defining what expungement is provided in this source and it shares what is looked at when going up for expungement. It helps support my argument showing that education and work experience is looked at when a judge is deciding weather to grant you an expungement or not.

“One way to deal with a felony record is to seek to have a felony expunged.  Under this, a felony can be dismissed from their record along with the consequences that go along with it. A felony expungement will show that they were rehabilitated and keep potential employers from viewing the felony on their record.”

“It is also easier to obtain expungement if felons can document how they have improved          themselves since their release through education, training and work experience.”

“How Record Expungement Will Help Students With a Criminal Record Obtain Financial Aid.” WipeRecord, 22 Apr. 2017, wiperecord.com/can-i-get-student-loans-with-a-criminal-record/.

          This source shows how FAFSA is still able to help a convicted felon get federal help to go to school. It tells you about the forms to fill out to see if you are eligible under your conviction.

” Well, the Federal Student Aid department has what is knows as the FAFSA Drug Conviction Worksheet, which can be completed to determine your eligibility to receive financial assistance with a criminal record. Once you determine if you will have an issue with obtaining government financial aid, you can then determine the next steps of action to get into a school and following your career goals.”

Josphine, Alexa. “How to Get Legal Aid Help to Expunge a Criminal Record.” Legal Beagle, 10 Jan. 2019, legalbeagle.com/8178829-legal-aid-expunge-criminal-record.html.

          I chose this to show how there is more help now for felons to get help on expunging their records. It states that there is local legal-aid programs that are funded to help individuals in their journey.

“Use the website LawHelp.org to access local legal-aid programs in your area. The local legal-aid programs are both publicly and privately funded and will provide you with free legal advice and represent you in court if expungement policies in your state require this.”

“Legislature to Consider Major Changes to Felony and Misdemeanor Vacate Laws.” Expungement Law | Robertson Law, www.robertsonlawexpungement.com/legislature-to-consider-major-changes-to-felony-and-misdemeanor-vacate-laws.

            This source is an actual house bill that is seeking major changes to the expungement laws. It also shows that costs are dropping, and you only have to pay for certain things now if any.

“House Bill (HB) 1041 seeks to make significant changes to our felony and misdemeanor vacate laws. It would make it easier to get a Certificate of Discharge. This new law would eliminate payment of court costs and other assessments from eligibility for a Certificate of Discharge. A person would be eligible for a Certificate of Discharge after paying restitution only.”

Murray, Brian M. “A New Era for Expungement Law Reform? Recent Developments at the State and Federal Levels.” Harvardlpr.com, June 2016. Accessed 9 March 2019

            Using this source helps to support the facts that employment barriers are the hardest to get over with a felony on your record. It also goes into detail about ways for ex-offenders to move on and specific new laws on expungement.

            “Employment barriers are perhaps the most damaging. As mentioned elsewhere,28 states have statutes barring the hiring of—and regulations prohibiting licensing of—those with criminal convictions for certain positions”

            “But in the past decade, due to heightened interest in criminal law reform—especially the perceived injustice of certain collateral consequences inhibiting reentry the effects of mass criminalization, and the technology-driven inability of ex-offenders to move on—several states have enacted specific laws providing for expungement or sealing remedies. While late to the game, even some members of Congress have followed suit”

Orians, K. E. (2016). “I’ll Say I’m Home, I Won’t Say I’m Free”: Persistent Barriers to Housing, Employment, and Financial Security for Formerly Incarcerated People in Low-Income Communities of Color. National Black Law Journal, 25(1). Retrieved from https://escholarship.org/uc/item/2219801g Accessed 9 March 2019

Banning the box is defined here and this source provides information on how the courts are working on making ways for people to get expungement. This will be a main source of information to show my purpose of how the courts are trying to make ways for rehabilitated ex-felons.

“This “othering” excludes formerly incarcerated  people  from  pathways  to  financial  services,  homeownership,  starting  their  own  business,  and  in  turn,  from  developing  financial  security and wealth. As a result, formerly incarcerated people, their families,

and their communities are kept in a cycle of poverty and incarceration.”

“Efforts to reduce recidivism have largely focused on removing the tens of thousands of legal restrictions and biases against people with conviction histories, particularly in employment. Broadly there are four ways that policymakers currently focus efforts to improve access to employment during reentry. The first and most commonly used approach is to control employer access to information about prior convictions,  such as by banning the box on job applications that ask applicants to indicate whether they have ever been arrested or convicted of a crime”

“As a result, in recent years we have seen a surge in efforts aimed at “banning the box,” which colloquially refers to situations where people have to disclose prior convictions.  The “box” can automatically disqualify you from dozens of licensing programs, educational grants and small business development, housing rentals, and federally insured mortgages”

Selbin, Jeffrey, Justin McCrary, and Joshua Epstein. "unmarked? Criminal Record Clearing and Employment Outcomes." Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, vol. 108, no. 1, 2018, pp. 1-72. Accessed 9 March 2019

            This topic of expungement law reform backs up my research question in this source because its states that more research is needed on such topics. I will use this for supporting evidence on being “marked” in society with a felon and to emphasizes on how expungement can change lives when working hard for it.

“In an era of heightened security concerns, easily available data, and increased criminal background checks, these records act as a substantial barrier to gainful employment and other opportunities. Harvard sociologist Devah Pager describes people with criminal records as "marked" with a negative job credential.”

“Using methods to control for selection bias and the effects of changes in the economy in our data, we find evidence that: (1) the record clearing intervention boosts participants’ employment rates and average real earnings, and (2) people seek record clearing remedies after a period of suppressed earnings.”

            “More research needs to be done to understand the durability of the positive impact and its effects in different local settings and labor markets, but these findings suggest that the record clearing intervention makes a meaningful difference in employment outcomes for people with criminal records.”

“Sentencing Law and Policy.” Sentencing Law and Policy: "Study after Study Shows Ex-Prisoners Would Be Better off without Intense Supervision", sentencing.typepad.com/sentencing_law_and_policy/2017/12/second-chance-reforms-in-2017-roundup-of-new-expungement-and-restoration-laws.html. Accessed 9 March 2019

            This source provides information on how certain states are reforming their expungement laws specially stating that is now taking less time for this to happen. It also shows that the topic needs more research and attention

 “Important new record-sealing schemes were enacted in Illinois, Montana and New York, and nine other states either relaxed eligibility requirements or otherwise supplemented their existing sealing or expungement authorities to make relief more broadly available at an earlier date.  Of these nine, the most ambitious reforms were enacted by Nevada, which was one of several states that created a presumption in favor of relief for eligible persons.”

“While reforms are moving at a fast pace, there is no consensus about the most effective way to avoid or mitigate the adverse effects of a criminal record, and very little relevant empirical research.”

Westrope, Elizabeth. "employment Discrimination on the Basis of Criminal History: Why an Anti-Discrimination Statute is a Necessary Remedy." Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, vol. 108, no. 2, 2018, pp. 367-397. Accessed 9 March 2019

            Using this source will help support my supporting point of employment discrimination and show the benefits of expungement. I will also use this for statistical information.

“This Comment argues that an anti-discrimination statute that bans employment discrimination against individuals with criminal records is necessary in order to benefit both the individuals themselves and society as a whole”

“The harms of mass incarceration do not end when an individual is released from prison. Instead, criminal records haunt approximately 70 million people throughout the United States today. Criminal histories follow persons convicted of crimes for the rest of their lives, creating collateral consequences that make it difficult for these individuals to get back on their feet and re-integrate into society”

“Gaining employment is one of the most crucial steps for returning citizens to take in order to regain stability in their lives. Yet, it remains one of the biggest obstacles. Employers are often wary of hiring persons with criminal records due to fear of liability and the social stigma that frequently attaches to formerly incarcerated individuals. While some remedies exist for returning citizens to clear their record from public view and (in theory) get a clean slate, they are inadequate.”