Goodwill hosts expungement clinic in Bowling Green

BOWLING GREEN, Ky.- Finding work and housing is often a challenge for people with a criminal record. Making that criminal history disappear can be life changing for those individuals.

Goodwill Industries of Kentucky is working to educate people on how to clean up their records. They host expungement fairs all over the southern Kentucky region. One of those fairs took place on Thursday in Bowling Green.

“There are so many folks out there who did something dumb when they were young, and it’s still haunting them today. Now they’ve gone on to be productive citizens, have not been in any other trouble. So, for them to understand what their next steps are, and what they can do to get those things off their record, is very important,” said T.J. Shockley-Hunt, regional manager of career services at Goodwill Industries of Kentucky.

Turning away from a criminal lifestyle often means finding stable work, however employers sometimes hesitate to hire someone with a record. It becomes a vicious cycle.

“The likelihood that someone potentially could re-offend is great when they can’t find work. That is so important to their future, and for them to get on the right path. Having the opportunity to earn a decent living, be able to put a roof over their head and to be able to provide for themselves and for their family,” said Shockley-Hunt.

Kentucky law has recently changed making some Class D felonies eligible for expungement.

“Class D burglaries, forgeries, wanton endangerment, tampering with physical evidence, there’s quite a few. Probably 90 something percent of Class D felonies are now eligible,” said James Rhorer, directing attorney of the Bowling Green Trial Office of the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy.

A crime can often follow a person for years, long after they’ve cleaned up their lives. A volunteer firefighter at today’s clinic has been trying to clear up his criminal record for the past 15 years.

“His felony conviction was in 2004. He’s a volunteer firefighter now. He’s looking for more opportunities, and he’s got a felony in his background that’s holding him back. We’re hoping that we can help him today. People like that it just opens a lot more doors when you can get some old things off your record,” said Rhorer.

In addition to hosting expungement fairs, Goodwill Industries helps people of different backgrounds find employment.