Expungment clinics changing lives in Pine Belt

Expungement clinic can help change lives
Published: Apr. 19, 2023 at 8:32 PM CDT
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - A number of people from the Pine Belt got a chance to erase a piece of their past.

Hattiesburg Christian Services partnered with the Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project on Wednesday morning for a free expungement clinic for residents.

“I had a DUI charge about six years ago when my life was a mess and out of control,” said applicant Kim Kolinsky. “That was a good thing for me because it opened my eyes up to the problems I was having in my life.”

Last year, the clinic in Hattiesburg helped over 200 people. This year’s number was not given.

“We were able with the assistance of the (Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project) to give them the information of what is expungable, who you need to see, what are your next steps, and how they can get help,” Christian Services director Maggie West said.

According to the Mississippi Free Press, from 2012 to 2021, Mississippi judges approved nearly 9,000 expungement applications.

Dexter Allen, another expungement candidate, said he is hoping to get help clearing up an auto burglary conviction from more than three decades ago.

Allen said the long-lingering record has not affected his ability to work.

But Allen said it has had an impact in other areas.

“No, not a job but other things I want, like apartments, houses,” Allen said. “If I get that expunged off my record, I can be free, like a jaybird.”

Allen and Kolinsky said they’ve learned lessons from past mistakes and now they’re hopeful for a fresh start to a better future.

“I want to do this for the experience so that I can help others down the road and encourage them,” Kolinsky said. “So, if it is possible to get these things off of your record, I think it’s worth it.”

For a list of upcoming clinics near you, visit www.mvlp.org/clinics

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