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National Expungement Week aims to give those with convictions a fresh start

Nationwide event aims to those with convictions a fresh start

Advocacy groups across America this week are working to level the playing field for citizens with a criminal history — especially when it comes to drug offenses.

The second annual National Expungement Week is an effort to offer legal assistance to Americans hoping to remove convictions from their records. Last year, an estimated 298 people were able to begin the expungement process.

Co-founder Torie Marshall said the initiative's goal is not just to help residents seal or remove records, but to help participants get their lives back on track.

Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, who sponsored the Clean Slate Amendment of 2019, told CBS News his district has made efforts to provide relief for some residents. 

"What we're doing is looking at certain other misdemeanors and felonies that we might make eligible to be expunged rather than simply sealed," said McDuffie.

States have varying policies on sealing or removing documents from public record, taking several factors into consideration like the age of the offender, gravity of the offense and whether or not the offender has completed the requirements of their sentence.

Mike Taylor, an entrepreneur from Georgia, finished serving time on drug charges in the D.C. area more than 26 years ago. He has had all but one of his records expunged — and learned he could remove the final record at last year's event.

Taylor said he hasn't been able to have sole ownership of his businesses due to issues with background checks. He recalled feeling overwhelmed when he was notified that his record was partially cleared.

"I just had a moment … it was a relief," Taylor said. 

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