Baltimore Metropolitan Alumnae’s Expungement Resource Fair Helps Close a Chapter on a Mistake
Submitted by Glenda Abney
Years ago, a simple criminal conviction may not have had the impact it has today, but a criminal conviction today may bar one from a number of opportunities. Expungement removes the stigma associated with having a conviction, and allows a person to move forward with their lives without having to disclose a prior conviction through the process of removing court and law enforcement records from public inspection.
On September 21, 2019 Baltimore Metropolitan Alumnae Chapter (BMAC) partnered with the Gamma Omicron Omega Chapter of Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Incorporated and a significant number of civic and community agencies to host its annual Expungement Resource Fair. The event was aimed at addressing the barriers that exist which prevent some of the City’s most valuable citizens from participating in employment, voting, and housing opportunities because of prior convictions. The annual Expungement Resource Fair provides onsite support from agencies to address these issues including The Maryland Legal Aid Bureau, who prepares and files petitions for the clients. Health screenings, voter registration, and mental health services were also available.
BMAC’s Political Awareness and Involvement Committee was at the helm of the event with the intent to support those individuals who have served their required sentences for the offenses committed, but find their criminal records have prevented them from re-entering society successfully. Pro bono attorney services from the Maryland Legal Aid Bureau, along with resource vendors, addressed many of the societal reentry hurdles that these citizens face. The following vendors supported the event, and many tabled for the day: Alcoholics Anonymous, American Civil Liberties, Baltimore Cancer Center, Baltimore City Fire Department, Baltimore City Health Department-Tobacco Free and BCHD HIV mobile testing, Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office, Center for Urban Families, Census Bureau, Consent Decree Monitoring Team, Enoch Pratt Library, Maryland Health Connections/Exchange, Mayor’s Office of Civil Rights and Wage Enforcement, NARCAN-Bmore Power, National Housing Services of Baltimore, R&H Community Services, There Goes My Hero, Voter Registration, Mind, Heart & Body Program, Legal Aid Volunteers, and HPRP – Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-housing Program. These organizations provided relevant materials to the attendees.
The results of the event on the target audience, chapter, and vendors were notable and impactful. Of the 83 individuals who signed up for expungement services, 71 were processed with 253 petitions filed by the attorneys, with nine clients not processed with potentially non-expungeable offenses. These vendors provided health screenings and disseminated important literature regarding employment opportunities, housing, Census 2020, Consent Decree updates, and information regarding mental health services. The event, held at Our Daily Bread Employment Center each September, will be repeated in 2020, not only to support new citizens, but to make sure those whose voting rights have been suspended can be reinstated to enable them the opportunity to vote in the November general election.
Submitted by Glenda Abney Years ago, a simple criminal conviction may not have had the impact it has today, but a criminal conviction today may bar one from a number of opportunities. Expungement removes the stigma associated with having a conviction, and allows a person to move forward with their lives without having to disclose …