The Urban League of Greater Oklahoma City is hosting its third annual Expungement Expo to help individuals clear their criminal records. The expo will provide free assistance from volunteer attorneys in creating petitions for expungement and navigating the court system. Expungement is the removal or sealing of a criminal conviction from state or federal records. The event will also feature organizations and employers dedicated to helping individuals with criminal records find employment and housing. The expungement process typically takes five to six months and costs $5,000 to $7,000, but the expo aims to help those who cannot afford it. Last year, 1,000 people attended the expo, and a similar turnout is expected this year. In the future, expungement may become more automatic with a new bill mandating the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to analyze records data monthly.
The Urban League of Greater Oklahoma City is gearing up to host its third annual Expungement Expo, a crucial event aimed at helping individuals clear their criminal records. This year, the expo is expected to assist approximately 1,000 people in wiping their slates clean and overcoming the barriers that come with having a criminal history.
The expo, scheduled for June 24 at the Metro Technology Center, will feature the participation of about 25 volunteer attorneys who will guide clients in creating petitions to expunge their records. These attorneys will also provide free assistance in navigating the court system. Expungement involves the destruction or sealing of a criminal conviction from a state or federal record, as defined by the American Bar Association.
In addition to the legal support, the Expungement Expo will bring together around 20 organizations, nonprofits, and second-chance employers dedicated to helping individuals with criminal records. Jabar Shumate, the Urban League of Greater Oklahoma City’s Vice President of Community Convening and Social Justice, emphasized the importance of addressing the discrimination faced by people with criminal records when seeking employment or housing.
Shumate stated, “There is indeed a different type of treatment our clients who’ve been justice-involved receive. What we’re trying to achieve is eliminating those barriers.”
The expungement process in Oklahoma typically takes five to six months and costs between $5,000 and $7,000. However, at the Expungement Expo, attorneys will begin processing cases on the day of the event, expediting the process for attendees. The Urban League of Greater Oklahoma City aims to assist those who are under-red and financially challenged, as a significant percentage of eligible individuals in Oklahoma cannot afford the expungement fees.
To be eligible for expungement, individuals with criminal records must meet certain criteria, such as being acquitted, arrested but not charged, having charges dropped, having their conviction overturned, receiving a pardon, being cleared of a crime by DNA evidence, or having someone else commit a crime using their name.
Last year, approximately 1,000 people attended the Expungement Expo, and the Urban League of Greater Oklahoma City anticipates a similar turnout this year. The event serves as a vital opportunity for individuals to access the legal support and res they need to move forward and rebuild their lives.
Looking ahead, the expungement process is set to become more automatic in Oklahoma. In May 2022, Governor Kevin Stitt signed House Bill 3316, which mandates the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to analyze records data monthly and provide a list to arresting agencies. This list will identify individuals eligible for automatic expungement based on certain criteria, streamlining the process and reducing the financial burden on individuals seeking to clear their records.
The Expungement Expo organized by the Urban League of Greater Oklahoma City is a valuable initiative that aims to empower individuals with criminal records and help them overcome the challenges they face due to their past. By providing free legal support, res, and connections to potential employers, the expo offers a lifeline for individuals seeking a fresh start and a chance to reintegrate into society.