MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- If you're a felon, you know it's not easy to get a job, and even finding a place to live can be difficult. That's why State Representative Raumesh Akbari hosted an event Wednesday afternoon for ex-offenders when a criminal record stands in their way.
People with criminal records, looking for answers and looking for help, gathered at Cane Creek Church hoping the experts could offer some advice.
“I wish could I give you a job. I wish I had a line of employers ready to hire you but they don't do that, right?” said Josh Spickler with the Public Defender’s Office.
People in this audience weren't asking for much.
“Really just work and be a regular person in society,” said Ralph Davis.
With criminal records, getting a job and just being normal can seem like an impossible task.
“It’s very hard and difficult when you go out and try to apply for a job and you tell the truth on your application and you still get rejected,” said Albert Jones.
“People make mistakes and they deserve a second chance,” said Rep. Akbari.
Rep. Akbari invited experts from the Department of Corrections, the Office of Re-Entry and others to share tips on how ex-offenders can find work and housing, and even possibly get their records expunged.
“If you have two charges of any kind you are not eligible for expungement,” said Spickler.
Spickler explained how people can get their records expunged if their case was dismissed. Without getting the crime expunged, the original arrest will remain on their record. Also, first-time offenders who've paid their fees and done their time could also get their records wiped clean.
The Workforce Investment Network spoke about grants available to help ex-offenders get job training so they can work towards a career.
“If you want to stop crime, you have to help criminals that are coming out,” said Rep. Akbari.
“That’s something they should think about. They want crime to stop but they are not helping the criminals,” said Martez Terry.
The Department of Corrections reports that 49 percent of offenders released from prison will commit a crime again and end up back in prison. This event aimed at helping eliminate obstacles that get in ex-offender’s way of success.
If you want to learn more about getting your record expunged, go to www.justcity.org/expungement. You can also call 901-308-4327.
If you want to learn about the Second Chance program under the Shelby County Office of Re-Entry, call 901-222-4550