SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The Justice and Accountability Center of Louisiana (JAC) is hosting an expungement event Saturday to give formerly convicted people an opportunity to clear criminal arrests and convictions from their records.
In 2021, President Biden declared April as “Second Chance Month,” with a proclamation that begins by calling for “meaningful opportunities for redemption and rehabilitation,” and that is the purpose of Saturday’s expungement clinic at SUSLA.
It has been three years since JAC hosted an expungement clinic in Shreveport. JAC Outreach and Community Engagement Director, Sherie Thomas, expects a good turnout.
“We will have more than 10 attorneys from around the state providing services free of charge on a first-come, first-serve basis. We ask that everyone show up with the required documentation and smiles, ready to greet us as they prepare for their second chance,” Thomas said.
While the attorneys’ services will be free of charge, those seeking expungement will still need to pay any fees for court records and background checks required to complete the process.
Those who want to have their arrest record expunged typically have to go through an expensive and cumbersome process, which is why Thomas recommends seeking out a JAC clinic or using the JAC app to make it a little less overwhelming.
“Some people don’t realize how much is involved with clearing their record,” Thomas said. “A person has to go to the sheriff’s department for the background check, the clerk of court for court minutes and bill of information, each case requires a petition, and the cost. Which is why we recommend them going through the guided process.”
Thomas says the cost to of expungement in Louisiana is the highest in the nation at $550 per arrest, and attorney’s fees can be in the thousands. It’s an expense that many people looking to clear their records often can not afford.
In addition to Saturday’s clinic at SUSLA, JAC is also working with Louisiana State Rep. Royce Duplessis (D) – New Orleans, on a HB707 which would provide automatic expungements of qualifying records. There is a list of crimes that Louisiana law does not consider eligible for expungement.
According to Thomas, one in three Louisiana citizens has a criminal record. Many do not realize that they have marks on their criminal record until they apply for a job or attempt to get housing and are denied.
Anyone who desires to have their record expunged at the event must provide the following at the clinic:
- background check
- bill of information
- court minutes
The JAC expungement clinic will take place at SUSLA – Alphonse Jackson, Jr. Hall, 3050 Martin Luther King Jr Drive and begins at 10 a.m.