Wyandotte County DA offering weekly chances to wipe criminal record clean

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- The Wyandotte County District Attorney's office is now offering free access to legal help for convicted criminals to clear their records.

A criminal record has been putting mountains in front of Justin Gonzalez for eight long years.

"There’s been a whole lot of struggles in my career and just in everyday life trying to deal with it," Gonzalez said.

When he got into trouble, his first child was about to be born. Now, he's the father of two.

Gonzalez said he wanted a better life for his family, but getting his felony record wiped clean would cost thousands of dollars.

"I didn’t know that I’d ever be able to take care of it," he said.

But now he and dozens of others are getting help with a second chance.

Every Wednesday afternoon this summer, the Wyandotte County District Attorney's office is offering free criminal expungement help in partnership with Kansas Legal Services and KCK Community College.

"I believe the DA’s job is not just to wait in line for individuals to make a mistake, but to be proactive and do our part in providing and exposing our constituents to this possibility so they can go out and get better jobs and not have to go out there and commit crime," Wyandotte County DA Mark Dupree said.

Depending on the offense, Kansas law offers the ability to wipe your record clean after 3-5 years with no infractions. The DA is not only offering free legal help, he's put all the necessary paperwork online to jump-start the process.

"I can’t tell you how excited I am. I really appreciate the opportunity that they’re giving people," Gonzalez said.

Studies show people with a criminal record are 50% less likely to get a job offer.

With records now being expunged, local employers and KCK Community College stand ready to give former felons a fresh start.

"Makes us feel as though we’re actually fulfilling our role in the community. We’re here to inspire and provide for the community and ensure they’re able to obtain success," said Paul Hancock, KCKCC employment services manager.

In just two weeks, the program's already helped 117 people.

The expungement event will be held again every Wednesday from 2-5 p.m. through August 14 at KCKCC's Technical Education Center.

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