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COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – Some Mississippi attorneys are helping ex-offenders get a fresh start. Senate Bill 2391 became law last July, giving anyone under 21 a chance to erase their criminal history. WCBI’s LaMonica Peters tells us how the legal action may help improve their job chances.

Most job applications now, one of the 1st questions are “have you been convicted of a felony?” If so, it has a devastating impact on your ability to be hired.” says Columbus Defense Attorney Carrie Jourdan.

Limited employment opportunities is just one of the consequences of having a criminal record. However, there is hope for those who have proven they’re no longer breaking the law.

“An expungement is a legal procedure where by an attorney can literally wipe clean a previous offense,” says Jourdan.

Last July, Senate Bill 2391 became Mississippi law, allowing anyone under age 21 to ask the court to expunge their criminal record. This could give thousands a chance to improve their housing opportunities as well as their job prospects.

“Every candidate that gets processed for a potential interview with our clients, they get a drug screen and they get a criminal background check. A lot of clients that we have that we find candidates for, depending on the nature of the crime, they’re willing to overlook it. If it’s a violent crime, typically they’re not,” says Bruce Johnson, Project Coordinator with The CGI Group, a Columbus job agency.

Jourdan says the legal action can help those who’ve been on their best behavior.

“If you’ve continued to commit crimes then that procedure may not be available to you. So in other words, it has to be someone who is sincere, who made a mistake and hasn’t had anymore crimes,” says Jourdan.

If you believe your eligible for expungement, you can contact a local attorney for assistance. A free expungement seminar will be held this Saturday at 10am in Columbus at Helen’s Kitchen. The event will be hosted by The Magnolia Bar Association.

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