Program Expunges Records to Clear Path for Employment

Georgia Justice Project
Employment Readiness Supports
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PROGRAM OVERVIEW

The Georgia Justice Project’s (GJP) expungement work began 15 years ago when they were approached by multiple families unable to secure housing vouchers due to their criminal record. Shortly thereafter, they began their employment support work to aid low-income individuals in removing offenses on their record that prevent them from obtaining certain jobs, specifically jobs that offer better pay and benefits and would significantly improve their economic circumstances.

PROGRAM IMPACT

Each year their small team speaks with more than 2,000 individuals, age 17 and older, during their First Fridays Clinics and Expungement Summits to advise them of what can be done to clean up their criminal record.

INNOVATION
  • 2021 GJP was able to celebrate a huge victory for their expungement work with the passage of two policy successes:
    • SB288, which added 70 convictions to the list of expungable offenses and establishes liability coverage for employers who engage in second-chance employment.
    • SB105 which allows individuals on probation to terminate their sentence after meeting specific criteria for three years.
PARTNERS
  • The Georgia Justice Project is privately funded with gifts from foundations, individuals, and the Atlanta Faith Community.
LESSONS LEARNED

Many of their applicants can find a job but cannot secure a better job with higher pay and benefits due to previous offenses. This barrier to better employment is one of the systemic issues that create the significant income divide that exists in the metro area.

“Our work has a huge racial component to it because being black and having a criminal record has a bigger impact than being white with a criminal record. So we are trying to level the playing field.”
– BRENDA SMEETON, Legal Director 

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