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'Everybody makes mistakes': Community and business leaders lead charge in giving ex-offenders second chances

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Posted at 7:10 AM, Apr 07, 2022

CLEVELAND — Everyone makes mistakes and Andrew Jackson, President of Elsons International, believes a mistake shouldn't always revoke redemption.

“Everybody deserves a second chance to have a job and feed their families and make a decent living,” he said.

The company, which is based in Collinwood, has been in business for 35 years. However, for 20 of those years, it has done more than serve as a packaging and corrugated box manufacturer.

“We encourage people to check the box,” Jackson said.

The company encourages ex-offenders to check the box with reassurance that their criminal past may not be held against them.

“The difference with somebody being a felon or making a mistake is a split second…the important thing is that we don't we don't just hire ex-offenders we hire anybody who has a good story,” Jackson explained. “If you have a basic drug offense, a theft offense, that kind of thing, we will look at your record and we will give you a second chance.”

But checking the box isn't always that easy as not all companies are forgiving of the past.

It's why the Greater Cleveland Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated is committed to helping.

“We wanted to remove that impediment so that they could live their lives free and clear of the cloud, put over them by having a record,” said Sonali Wilson, Delta Sigma Theta, Incorporated member.

The chapter’s third annual “Breaking the Chain: A Community Expungement Clinic and Resource Expo" will give ex-cons the chance to seal eligible criminal offenses from the public, apply for license reinstatements and get vaccinated.

“One of our missions is to serve the underserved, and you will find that many of those that are convicted are in the underserved community,” said Ruth Price-Rollins, President of the Greater Cleveland Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.

As more people seek a second chance, Jackson says he hopes more businesses, especially larger ones, step up to help.

“I would encourage them to look at this very hard,” he said. “In order to make our place, our town, a great place to work and live, we should open our minds to this.”

The “Breaking the Chain: A Community Expungement Clinic and Resource Expo” will be held on Saturday, April 23, 2022, at John F. Kennedy (JFK) High School, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For those who cannot attend, click here.

For more information, email info@dstcleveland.org.