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Program Giving People With Criminal Records A Second Chance

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MIAMI (CBS4) – A program by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office is offering people who have criminal records a leg up in an already tough job market.

“They are providing people the opportunity for a second chance, for those of us who have made a mistake in life.” Garcia says.

His mistake was a fight he had a long time ago.

Garcia explains “I was really just defending myself but that’s the way it came out,” Garcia explained to CBS4’s David Sutta.

Police arrested him. It landed on his record and it’s haunts him every time he interviews for a job.

“After they have checked your record they say oh we’ll get back with you,” Garcia said.

At this one stop shop put on by the State Attorney Office, people with minor charges can get them expunged or sealed.

“You can expunge anyone of the three.” a case worker explained to Garcia.  In other words he’s getting a fresh start.

“Somewhere between 50 and 70 percent of the folks qualify for the process,” Leo Mendoza with the State Attorney’s Office explained.

Miami-Dade is the only county in Florida that does this.  Typically you would need a lawyer and a decent amount of money.  Here, it’s free.  “I’m happy. I’m grateful,” Gerald Baker told Sutta.  He’s homeless and wouldn’t be able to afford to do this if not for the event.

FIU law students, who volunteer with the program, explained it may just be the solution to getting people back on their feet.

“It’s trying to help them out so they can feel they can make a positive impact in life and having them understand that they are just as important as anyone else who doesn’t have any crap on their record,” Second year student Anthony Rouzier said.

The process takes three to six months for a do-over that can last a lifetime.

These one stop shops for second chances happen every month.  The next one is in West Kendall.  If you are interested in that and per-registering go to http://www.miamisao.com/

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