The Clean Slate program offers a true second chance

Our country was founded on principles of equal opportunity, basic human rights and justice. As a nation, we have overcome social problems using both individual advancement and collective achievement. We did not hesitate to help returning veterans with the GI Bill. We did not waste time helping people in need when we launched the War on Poverty. We must have the same sense of urgency with helping people in need of a second chance because of contact with the criminal justice system. The city of Durham prides itself as being a great city of opportunity, advancement, and community. However, the neglect of marginalized citizens caught in the perpetual lock of the criminal justice system is rarely mentioned.
Currently, the United States contains 5 percent of the world’s population while holding 25 percent of the worlds incarcerated individuals. Many of these individuals permanently lose their rights during and after their incarceration. These include access to government assistance for education, healthcare, job training, and even the most fundamental right of citizenship, the right to vote.  What happens when citizens in a community lose their rights? For that community, it could mean the lifetime loss of potentially productive members. For those citizens, it could mean a lack of ability to acquire employment, a home, or a voice in their democratic society.
The Criminal Justice Initiative of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice works to promote the full inclusion of people with criminal records into society through its Clean Slate Program. The program helps people with criminal records have a true second chance for opportunity by removing the legal barriers triggered by their contact with the criminal justice system. Participants are screened for eligibility for expungement, certificates of relief, as well as legal representation with occupational licensing boards. The ultimate goal of the program is to put vulnerable and marginalized people back in control of their lives.
A Clean Slate clinic is being held this Saturday, July 12th, at the Holton Career Center from 10am-4pm. For more information regarding the Clean Slate program in particular and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice in general, please visit Like us on Facebook, follow us on twitter, donate if possible and help us bring true justice to people previously involved in the criminal justice system.
Post by SCSJ Intern Aaron Bryant