Officials in York want to help eligible people expunge their criminal records

YORK, Pa. -- Officials in York County are once again looking to give people with criminal records a second chance - hosting another expungement clinic.

It’s not the first expungement clinic for York. It is however the first time attorneys will meet with juveniles and see if their records can be expunged.

Officials say the clinic, which comes after the Council adopted a resolution May 1, cannot guarantee a person will have their record expunged. But it allows registered individuals to talk with an attorney and see if they’re eligible.

One man told FOX43 his conviction is like wearing a scarlet letter and plans on attending in hopes to reclaim his life.

“It was one incident, it was one time. I always like to make that clear," said Jamie Groff-Wood of York.

Jamie Groff-Wood of York says he made one bad decision, one mistake ten years ago that put him behind bars for 3 months.

“It resulted in three charges, stemming from one incident, and unfortunately, those charges have haunted me… and plagued me," he said.

Since then, he's gotten married and is studying sociology at Southern New Hampshire University, all the while, carrying his conviction like a scarlet letter.

"You can’t hide from your past, and unfortunately, what happens is, a lot of good people are turned down for gainful employment," said Jamie.

That's part of the reason why the York City Council President says it's necessary to expunge criminal records, whenever possible

"It simply is not fair. It just increases the opportunity and the chances for the same individual to go into much further kinds of crimes," said Henry Nixon, president of York City Council.

According to the World Prison Brief, the United States has more people incarcerated than any other country in the world.

In Pennsylvania, officials say it’s not easy to get arrests and convictions set aside.

“We’re one of the toughest states to get expungement is granted, and discrimination based on having a record in your background happens all the time," said Victoria Connor, president of the York County Bar Association.

Connor says when a person has a record, it can be difficult for them to get a good paying job with benefits or even housing.

“It [a criminal record] creates a significant socioeconomic barrier, to both gainful employment and also to securing housing,” said Victoria Connor, CEO of the York County Bar Association. “It can impact your credit, it can impact you from getting into college and getting financial aid, and many other things.”

York City Council declared its support for the clinic back in May.

Council members want to help people successfully reenter society, rather than the system.

Jamie says it's long overdue.

“It really does come down to making a stronger community. You can’t send fathers or even mothers back to their homes with no prospects," he added.

The expungement clinic for adults and juveniles is set for Thursday, June 7 from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Martin Library in York.

The clinic is free to attend for registered people.

To register, please contact Janelle Black of the York County Bar Association. You can contact her via email: janelle.black@yorkbar.com or by phone: 717-854-8755