North Alabamians react to potential impact of state expungement law

Violent crimes, sex offenses and major traffic convictions would not be eligible.

Posted: Apr 28, 2021 8:55 PM
Updated: Apr 28, 2021 11:35 PM

Starting this summer, people with past convictions for certain low-level crimes can apply to have their records wiped clean.

Gov. Kay Ivey signed into law the Redeemer Act.

"They should be able to have a second chance, and I do believe this Redeemer Act will do that," Sirrene Derrick with Outreach Reentry Ministry said.

Derrick is the secretary for Outreach Reentry Ministry. It is an organization based out of the Shoals. It has been around for decades, helping those who have served time, re-enter society.

"We don't want you to get out there and stumble. We want you to exceed," Derrick said.

Joshua Connie is trying his best to do just that. He got out of prison less than a month ago after facing theft charges, but his run-ins with the law began at a young age.

When he was 14, he was expelled from high school.

"A lot of my problem was, you know, people just like, let me be me, and sometimes that's not a good thing," Connie said. "Especially when you are young and you don't even know who you are."

For Connie, he may be qualified for expungement. All of his charges have been non-violent.

The law would allow people with convictions for a non-violent misdemeanor, municipal ordinances and minor traffic offenses to apply.

Violent crimes, sex offenses and major traffic convictions would not be eligible. People convicted of felonies, but later pardoned, could also apply.

"It's going to help a lot of people that otherwise wouldn't have been able to get jobs and stuff because of things they've done way in their past," Derrick said.

Connie said right now, he is focusing on completing the reentry program and his parole.

"This program does a lot, a lot to get you on your feet and point you in the right direction," Connie said.

In fact, he is living at a transitional home and found a job at a plant nearby.

"Like you know, I was running around with no hope and now I feel like, you know, I got a future for real," he said.

The granting of expungement is not automatic. It will be up to a judge. The bill will take effect in July.

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