Cleveland residents like Sylvia Smith are proof N.E. Ohio expungement clinics can clear a felony record when it comes to non-violent convictions.
Smith was convicted on a felony drug abuse charge 12 years ago, but that single blemish on her record prevented her from getting a good job, and the fresh start she needed to help support her family.
Smith attended the expungement clinic hosted by the Famicos Foundation and its Famicos Cares: Legal Works program.
Smith's felony drug conviction was sealed, with the legal work provided by attorney James Levin free of charge.
"It's a good opportunity for people to get back into the community and be productive," said Smith. "There are second chances out here. You don't have to feel like whatever your background was, it's going to hinder you for life, because that's not the case."
Levin has provided 150 residents with free services in getting their criminal records sealed through the program, but there are limits on what can be expunged.
"If you have more than one felony it's not eligible, if it's a violent offense, it's not eligible," said Levin. "If you have even more than two misdemeanors it's not eligible."
Levin says the program continues to expand, with 500 cases in Cuyahoga County last year, through the county re-entry program and the public defender's office.
Famicos Executive Director John Anoliefo says confidentiality is assured when someone applies to go through the program.
The program starts at the Gordon Square Arcade located at 6516 Detroit Avenue in Cleveland on July 15 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
It ends with the Famicos Foundation at 1325 Ansel Road in Cleveland on August 19 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
A complete schedule of the upcoming expungement clinics can be found here on the Famicos Foundation website.