The Catholic Church teaches that access to the essential services, education and employment opportunities that contribute to our integral human development is a human right. Criminal records, even for arrests that did not result in a conviction, put up barriers to that access. Public housing and rental properties, military and police service, professional licensing across a number of industries, adoption – these are just a few areas in which a criminal record can prevent access.

Expungement or record restriction can seal these records and free people from the stigma of having a criminal record show up in a background check run by a potential employer or landlord. While record restriction can be accomplished on an individual basis, it can take up to three or four months and may require hiring an attorney to navigate the process. Communities of faith, in partnership with officials from their local jurisdictions, can host expungement events to allow individuals to seal their records all in the space of one day.

As we continue our efforts to promote restorative justice, the Archdiocese of Atlanta is partnering with the Multifaith Initiative to End Mass Incarceration to host a virtual Expungement Training Workshop open to anyone interested in hosting a record restriction event in their parish or community. We will be joined by Reverend John Vaughn, pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, and Rabbi Lydia Medwin, Director of Congregational Engagement & Outreach at The Temple, who have both offered these events in their communities to great success. Cierra Bickerstaff, Chief of Staff for the Fulton County Solicitor General, will give us an overview of how record restriction works and best practices for hosting an event.

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