Organizations are banding together to help Mississippians with criminal records become taxpaying citizens.
President of the Gulfport NAACP Gary Fredericks says he receives hundreds of calls from people in Mississippi, especially young adults, seeking help in removing misdemeanor or felony offenses from their records.
"People Have come to us and say I can't find a job. Nobody will hire me because I had a minor offense as a teenager and I made a mistake," said Fredericks
The NAACP is partnering with the WIN Job Center, Mississippi Power and the Port of Gulfport, to offer job preparedness and expungement clinics to help to people who qualify. Fredericks says the Port of Gulfport is expanding and by 2020 will hire more than 1,000 workers. But they have to pass background checks. Gulf Coast Attorney Dawn Stough helps people at the clinics.
"Once you've successfully expunged that crime off of your record. You can legally say on applications and when you're applying for jobs if that was the only crime you had you can say you have no felony convictions," said Stough.
Not all offenses can be expunged. Crimes like murder and aggravated assault are not eligible. Stough says people need help to complete the process because it's a legal proceeding. She encourages them to attend clinics where they can get the help they need at no cost.