News Briefs

Nonprofit law firm hosting free educational session on sealing criminal records

By: - October 21, 2020 10:46 am

Criminal records often create barriers for employment, education and housing.

So how do people get their criminal records sealed, including records of conviction, arrests and even arrest where charges were not filed?

That legal process is called expungement. And the ArchCity Defenders, a nonprofit law firm, is hosting a free virtual education session tonight to help people understand their rights. 

The session will be held via Zoom at 6 p.m. Registration is required, and a link to register is here.

“There’s no reason an arrest or conviction, which is already rooted in a racist system that criminalizes poverty, should prevent access to basic needs like housing and employment, but it does under our current policy regime,” said Blake Strode, executive director of ArchCity Defenders. 

In 2012, over 11,000 people completed dispositions relating to nonviolent and drug offenses, meaning they were no longer incarcerated or were off probation/parole, according to an annual report from Missouri’s Department of Correction. State law requires individuals to wait seven years before they are eligible to apply to have a felony expunged.

However, only 1,187 expungement cases were filed in Missouri in 2018, according to the report. 

“We hope to spark individual curiosity about expungement and raise community awareness about this process that very few people pursue often because of cost and hurdles created by the state,” said Martin Hutchins, a racial justice fellow and staff attorney at ArchCity Defenders.

In the presentation, Hutchins will cover what expungement is, recent changes to Missouri’s expungement laws and issues people face in the process of going through expungement. 

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Rebecca Rivas
Rebecca Rivas

Rebecca Rivas is a multimedia reporter who covers Missouri's cannabis industry. A graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, she has been reporting in Missouri since 2001, including more than a decade as senior reporter and video producer at the St. Louis American, the nation’s leading African-American newspaper.