On May 7, the staff and interns of the Carolina Justice Policy Center visited with state legislators to encourage them to pass the Second Chance Act.

Today in North Carolina, justice-involved people must carry their criminal record with them for life, as it continually surfaces on increasingly common “routine background checks.” For just one minor nonviolent offense, a person will face a lifetime of difficulty finding employment, obtaining safe housing, and educating themselves. Now moving through the NC legislature, the Second Chance Act helps remove some of these devastating collateral consequences through automatic record expungements.

Currently, the only way to get criminal records expunged is to hire and pay a lawyer, and it is only possible in a few circumstances. To address this challenge, the Second Chance Act:

  • Allows people with certain misdemeanor and felony charges that took place when a person was 16 or 17 years old to be eligible for expungement under the Raise the Age law that was passed in 2017.
  • Expands the types of offenses eligible for expungement after a certain amount of time of good behavior.
  • Allows people with nonviolent misdemeanor convictions to petition for expungement after five years, and those with nonviolent felony convictions to do so after 10 years.

During Second Chance Lobby Day, our interns and Justice Fellows to learned about lobbying, and made connections to our partner advocates and state legislators. The photo above shows, left to right, Savannah Baker (Justice Fellow and UNC-CH student), Sierra Riley (Intern and Ravenscroft High School student), Maura Holt-Ling (intern and UNC-CH student), Wyatt Russell (intern and NCSU student) and Mariah Warner (Justice Fellow and UNC-CH student). Also pictured are NC Senator Erica Smith and CJPC Executive Director Dawn Blagrove.

If you want to help us lobby for second chances, contact your state legislators today and ask them to support the Second Chance Act.