Utahns seek to move forward from their criminal past

Local News

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) Over 250 Salt Lake County residents made appointments to meet with attorneys and hundreds more lined up outside the Utah Law and Justice Center on Wednesday to try and have their records cleared.

It’s the second Expungement Day the Salt Lake County has had in a year and a half. The county says residents are using the free-of-charge day to find out if they are eligible to have any criminal records cleared – if eligible, attorneys will help them get expunged.

The process of getting expunged is quite lengthy and expensive. Jennifer Gardiner who’s been working to get her criminal record cleared for three years says she’s looking forward to getting her record expunged.

“There’s a timeline on all of it,” Gardiner says. “That was the extremely irritating part of the whole process; that it was lengthy and then they cut you off when there’s only so much time to pay this money.”

Because Gardiner has a criminal record, she says it hasn’t been easy.

“Most of us are just trying to get a better job but we have a record that stops us from getting one,” Gardiner says. “A lot of us don’t have all this extra money to pay to get these listings off our background.”

Gardiner says she’s hoping that this free day will help her learn what she can have expunged to be able to have a fresh start.

Ken Carr, an attorney in South Jordan, says most of the people he’s met with have convictions that are five, ten and fifteen years old, and it’s a good thing to have those expunged.

“Then you can move on with your life and get the employment you want,” Carr says.

Carr says while there are many things that can be expunged, crimes that are against a person are not.

In Utah, one in three people have a criminal record, Noella Sudbury says, and it’s a common thing nationwide.

As the director of the criminal justice advisory counsel, Sudbury says she hopes having days like Expungement Day, will help limit some of the difficulties many face.

“Having a criminal record creates a lot of barriers to getting safe housing, getting employment opportunities and to going back to school,” Sudbury said. “We just really want people who are crime free, have paid their debts to society, to be forgiven and to be able to move on.”

Sudbury says as far as she knows, Salt Lake County is the only county in the Beehive State that’s providing this free service through a grant. She says they’re hoping other counties will see the importance of it and take action.

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