Removing Barriers to Employment

Jasmyn Prioleau was a 20-something when she had a run-in with the law, and said she didn’t think about the lifelong consequences – although the crime was minor.
Three years ago, she pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, and the criminal record left her unable to obtain certifications for classes she took for two professions – a skin therapist and a paralegal. That changed this week, when she was granted a “Certificate of Relief” that will enable her to receive her certifications and apply for work.
“I just feel that weight lifted off my shoulders,” she said, “and I feel very confident about being able to speak about what has happened, what I’ve done in my past and how I’m able to move on.”
The Certificate of Relief is for North Carolina residents convicted of crimes who are able to prove to a judge that they are trying to better themselves. It allows them to get clearance for professional certifications that would otherwise have been unattainable because of their convictions.
The certificate is part of a law passed in 2011. Prioleau’s attorney, Daryl Atkinson of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, said many don’t know the option is available to them. Getting a professional certificate, he said, helps with getting employers and landlords to give the person a chance.
“It gives them a level of immunity and protection to be able to take a risk on folks who they ordinarily might say it’s too risky to take a chance on.”
In order to be eligible, a person must first satisfy the requirements of their conviction and then wait at least 12 months to apply.
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