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Expungement fair will offer info, job opportunities for those with criminal records

A free expungement fair has been scheduled this week to assist those who want to find out if their criminal record can be erased, making it easier for them to find a job, have more educational opportunities and be eligible for some government assistance programs.

The expungement fair will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6 at Danville Church of God, located at 516 S. Fourth St. It’s being sponsored by the Boyle County Agency for Substance Abuse Policy, Goodwill Industries, the Kentucky Department of Corrections Division of Reentry Services and the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy.

Coordinator for the local ASAP, Kathy Miles, said it’s important for people who have been arrested, convicted and served their time to have their records expunged if possible. Having a “clean slate” helps these people be able to find jobs and regain their voting rights, she said.

“We need them in the workforce in a way they can make a living wage and contribute to community life instead of floating around …” Miles said. They need to be able to “re-engage in life.”

Services at the fair will include information on offenses that are eligible for expungement; a copy of your criminal record; job training and job search assistance; information on restoration of voting rights; and information about alcohol and drug recovery. A free dinner will be served.

Also on hand will be representatives from companies who are hiring individuals with a criminal record, Miles said.

Miles said the event is designed to be much more than just a source of information about criminal record expungement. “It lowers the stigma” of having a record, she said, and there will be lots of folks at the fair who want to help people with criminal records become contributing members of this community.

Staff from the Department of Corrections will be on site with computers to print out an attendee’s record, and three public defenders will review each case to see if they are eligible for their records to be expunged said Jessica Buck, directing attorney of the Danville Trial Office of the Department of Public Advocacy. She said they will meet with anyone who may be eligible for expungement and give them information about the process.

Being able to have their criminal record expunged “is a big relief” to many people and allows them to apply for more jobs, Buck said.

Angie Reichenbach, a vocational rehabilitation counselor with the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation said, “There’s a lot of people who are trying to turn their lives around, but choices they made several years ago are hindering this. I’m a true believer of consequences of your actions, but how can we expect someone to make different choices when they don’t have that option?”

That’s why she will provide a brief overview of the services they offer at the fair.

“We have several people who would make fantastic employees but their criminal background is holding them back,” Reichenbach said. “This expungement fair will give them information on possible expungement, employers who are willing to hire people with a background and agencies like us (OVR) who are willing to assist them in the process of becoming employed. Anytime someone can gain employment there are benefits to our society as a whole.”

Reichenbach said, “The (OVR) counselor’s role is to provide guidance and counseling, information, services and resources that will assist the individual in becoming successfully employed and independent.”

Ben Haydon, Program Services East Business Development Specialist with Goodwill Industries said, “Participants of the expungement clinic will also hear more about Goodwill’s Soft Skills Academy, a series of free classes teaching critical skills that employers look for as they seek to fill open positions. After completing skills classes, participants earn Work Ready Certificates and are paired with career coaches to further prepare for and secure employment, ensuring that the job seeker’s skills are matched appropriately with an employer’s needs and requirements. After placement, Goodwill career coaches stay engaged with both the employee and employer to assist with any issues that could put the individual’s employment at risk.”

Amy Luttrell, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Kentucky said, “Goodwill works hard every day to support people who want to work, but need help getting a foot in the door or simply a second chance.”

IF YOU GO

The expungement fair will be 5:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday at Danville Church of God, 516 S. Fourth St. Sponsored by the Boyle County Agency for Substance Abuse Policy, Goodwill Industries, the Kentucky Department of Corrections Division of Reentry Services and the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy, is free. A meal will also be served.