In Florida, people charged with certain crimes can apply to have their records sealed or expunged. The vast majority of eligible people, however, don’t take advantage of that opportunity. One program, dubbed “Second Chance, One-Stop,” is looking to change that.
More than 250 people came to an event Thursday at the Community Health Center of South Florida in Cutler Bay to fill out applications to get their Miami-Dade County records sealed or expunged. Most had been charged with low level misdemeanors.
Alfred Robinson, a supervisor at Walmart, hopes to work for the government as a correctional officer, but at age 18, he was charged with marijuana possession.
“It hasn’t slowed me down from getting work, but jobs that I really want to go after, I haven’t been able to because I’m nervous and scared of it,” Robinson said. He hopes to have his records expunged (completely removed from the records system) or sealed (made invisible to the general public without a court order).
He hopes to have more success applying for jobs. “I’m just trying to get my life together and taking it a step at a step.”
The Second Chance program is organized by the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office, which brings together all the necessary parties to both screen and guide candidates through the application process.
“We saw it as a community stability tool that if we could help people seal their record, people would not resort to crime if they got a good job or if they got a good apartment or if they were able to get a professional license or education,” says David Maer, the assistant state sttorney in charge of the community program.
Now in its ninth year, the program has helped more than 6,000 people seal or expunge their records. The monthly event is free, but each applicant must pay a $75 fee to be mailed with the application.
The next event will be held on 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 15. Contact the state attorney's office at 305-547-0724 for the exact location.