MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Hundreds of people turned out Saturday for an expungement clinic at the Binghampton Community Life Center, hoping to get their criminal records cleared and turn their lives around.
James Bowie Jr., 28, was one of them.
“I kind of got off on the wrong foot, you know, not listening to my parents, being disobedient, kind of got into it with some gangsters," he said.
He says he got mixed up with the wrong crowd in his early 20s, ending up in jail and facing serious charges.
But he's ready to move forward and for his criminal past to stop hindering future opportunities.
“So I’ll be able to find a better job and finish school," he said.
Expungement isn’t guaranteed. People who applied couldn’t have more than a Class E felony or two misdemeanors on their record, and must have paid any fines or court costs.
But it’s a first step toward a new life.
“Some people did not know that they can actually get some charges taken off their record," said Shelby County Criminal Court Clerk Public Information Officer Kevin Phipps. “It was exciting to see people say, ‘Thank you and I appreciate you all bringing this to the community.’”
It can take about two months for a decision from the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office, but if approved, people with criminal records will just have to pay a $280 fee to get them wiped clean.
A small price to pay for a second chance.
“Just leave my past in the past and make the most out of this future that I have left," Bowie said.
Greater Pleasant Hill MB Church hosted the event.
Phipps said more events like this are being planned for the near future.
People with criminal records can also apply for expungement on the Shelby County Criminal Court Clerk's website.