A clinic Friday, February 7, will help eliminate a barrier to employment for people in Kalamazoo with criminal records. The Kalamazoo City Attorney’s Office is partnering with the Kalamazoo Defender indigent criminal defense program, the courts, and the Kalamazoo County Bar Association for a free "Expungement Clinic."
Expungement is the term for removing convictions from a person’s record. Josh Hilgart, the executive director of Kalamazoo Defender, says that’s often an inconvenient process that costs around $70. But the clinic will give people who need to clean up their records an easier way. County court clerks will complete background checks, generate documents, and provide court dates, all on the same day. Hilgart says the Kalamazoo Police Department will also provide finger-printing.
“This event is a great display of cooperation among many players, to address an issue that too often goes unnoticed. I look forward to a good turnout and a large number or our friends and neighbors in Kalamazoo being able to clean up their record and move on with their life.”
Hilgart says events like the clinic can have a big impact on someone’s life.
“Having a criminal conviction can interfere with housing, it can interfere with employment. And because you can’t expunge until five years after the conviction, some of the people we get, it's 10-year-old or 20-year-old convictions that still get in their way.”
The expungement clinic will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. on Friday, February 7, at the Northside Association for Community Development, 612 North Park Street, in Kalamazoo.