Augusta offers a second chance for people with a criminal record
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AUGUSTA, Ga ()- People with a criminal record in Augusta now have a second chance to move past their mistakes.

The “Georgia Justice Project,” the District Attorney’s Office and the Solicitor General are working together on the “Augusta Second Chance Desk,” to provide free assistance to people regarding their criminal history.

When you have an arrest record it can be hard to get a good job, go to school and even find housing.

Second Chance Desk will help those people by restricting or sealing their records- if they are eligible.

“We have young people, who at a very early age can be branded as a criminal or as a felon and that follows you,” said Jared Williams, D.A., Richmond and Burke Counties.

Williams believes people deserve a second chance. When someone has a criminal record, creating a better life for themselves can be hard.

“We see that there are just barriers that people are impacted by long after their sentence is done. Long after they have paid their debt and come back into society. We want to have a criminal justice system that doesn’t just hold people back, but instead propels them forward,” he explained.

The Augusta Second Chance Desk is a program where attorneys from the Georgia Justice Project will be available once a month to look over people’s criminal history and help them get their record cleared, again, if they are eligible.

“Most misdemeanors with the exception of things like DUI’s are restrict-able. If you have a felony conviction then you are not eligible for restriction,” said Williams. “However, there are some times where someone gets arrested for a felony and either the case does not get prosecuted, or instead it’s dismissed, that would be eligible for restriction…the arrest would be.”

This is the third “Second Chance Desk” program in Georgia. The first started in Cobb County and they just opened one in Athens.

Tiffany Gordon, an attorney with the Georgia Justice Project, said that people may not realize just how many are haunted by an old criminal record.

“There are 4.5 million people in the state of Georgia with a criminal record. And we really have to look into dynamic ways of allowing these individuals to move forward with their lives,” Gordon said.

Gordon said having any criminal record can have a devastating affect and not just on employment.

“We see a lot of individuals who are much older who have older records and they’re trying to get into senior housing and because of that they’re not able to…because of something showing up on their record, they’re not able to move forward,” she explained.

There will be a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Second Chance Desk here at the public library headquarters auditorium today at 3 p.m.

It will open to the public tomorrow by appointment only.

You can find out how to register by clicking HERE.

Photojournalist: Will Baker.

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