Indiana House Democratic Caucus

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Public forum on Sept. 17 will focus on new expungement law

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For immediate release:
Sept. 5, 2013

 

STATEHOUSE - The Indiana Black Legislative Caucus will sponsor a second public forum on September 17 in Indianapolis to answer questions about the state’s new expungement law. The law, which went into effect July 1, enables individuals to petition courts to have old criminal offenses removed from their records.

The forum—scheduled to run from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on September 17 at the Pike Performing Arts Center, located at 6701 Zionsville Road—will include a panel discussion on the new law and an opportunity for people to have free consultations with attorneys to determine if they qualify to have their records expunged.

Organizers said they chose to have a second forum after an initial meeting in early August drew standing-room crowds.

“We saw the overwhelming need to have a second forum because of the large participation we had at the August forum,” said State Rep. Cherrish Pryor (D-Indianapolis). “This time, we want to have hands-on legal services available that can provide immediate information. We want people who have changed their lives, served their time and shown their willingness to work to have every opportunity to take advantage of this law and become productive members of society again.”

Public Law 159-2013, passed earlier this year by the Indiana General Assembly, allows people to have previous convictions of a number of non-violent offenses removed from their records. This would include such offenses as drunken driving and drug possession. The change removes those crimes from public background checks used by employers so the offenses do not prevent a rehabilitated ex-offender from finding a job.

“We passed this law to help ex-offenders, but we also realize that this is a complicated procedure and people need help to apply for expungement,” noted State Rep. Vanessa Summers (D-Indianapolis). “Some people lost their jobs during the recession, and they have been shut out of the workforce because of crimes for which they have paid their debt to society. This new law helps them apply for jobs and focus on their work history, rather than things that happened in the past that do not reflect who they are today.”

Pryor and Summers said organizers are in the process of securing the services of a number of attorneys to provide the free consultations. In addition, officials from a number of state and private agencies are expected to be on hand to answer questions that are linked to the expungement law.

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