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New bill could lower expungement fee

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- In between making phone calls for her new job, Almetta Street can't help but reflect on that one day in 2004 at her old job, working retail, that would wind up changing her life in so many ways.

"They said that I was doing fraudulent returns."

Street was charged with a felony. She lost her job and served one day in jail, but her troubles weren't over. When she went to apply for jobs, "I just never got a call back," she said.

"I knew it was because the conviction. Having been convicted of a felony, and of course you check `yes,` and you never get a call back."

In Tennessee, some first-time criminals can expunge their records, but you have to pay $350 on top of about $100 in other fees.

Deandre Brown works with many ex-convicts through his group, Lifeline to Success. He's hopeful that a bill to reduce the expungement fee to $180 passes, because right now, he said $350 isn't affordable.

"It`s like a catch 22. You don`t have the money in the first place, so how do you expect someone to come up with it so they can then earn a living?"

Although Street wouldn't qualify for expungement because of a prior conviction from 1983, she said there are plenty of people who do, and who would benefit from a lower fee.

"There`s lots of people that`s looking for jobs and can`t find them because they have that on their record."