Atlanta/ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on April 20, 2024
DeKalb County Hosts Record Restriction Clinic to Seal Criminal Arrest Records in DecaturSource: Google Street View

In what's been billed as a major move for social justice, DeKalb County hosted a Record Restriction Clinic on April 13, closely aligned with Second Chance Month, to give individuals with a past they wish to move on from a new lease on life. The event, which was held at Goodwill of North Georgia on Lawrenceville Highway in Decatur, saw 147 criminal arrest records become eligible to be shielded from the public's prying eyes.

The clinic aimed to quickly and decisively aid individuals with previous arrests by DeKalb County law enforcement or those with misdemeanor and felony convictions in the county. More than 240 hopefuls applied during March, with the process allowing to potentially restrict up to two arrests per application. The applications were thoroughly vetted by a host of DeKalb County's criminal justice stakeholders, including the Police Department, Sheriff’s Office, District Attorney's Office, Solicitor-General's Office, and the Clerk of Superior Court.

Those who attended the clinic were informed then and there, or by post, whether their applications to seal their records were successful. Unfortunately, not all who turned up left with their past wiped clean. For those whose records couldn’t be restricted on the spot, the opportunity to scheldule a further consultation with an attorney from the Law Office of the DeKalb County Public Defender or the Georgia Justice Project was presented, offering a glimmer of hope and a chance to discuss next steps.

The Record Restriction Clinic also offered a plethora of other services that were nothing short of life-affirming for the participants. A job fair, resource booths, food distribution, medical screenings, SNAP applications, and even voter registration turned the event into something more than just a legal clinic; it became a comprehensive community service hub. The move to rebrand old expungements as "record restrictions" represents a tangible attempt by the state to improve access to critical life opportunities like housing, employment, and financial services.

The initiative, recognized during Second Chance Month, signals an expanding consciousness towards the complexities of reentry into society post-incarceration. According to an announcement on the DeKalb County District Attorney's Office website, the month-long observance serves to "help individuals and communities across Georgia to recognize the importance of reentry services and their role in supporting safe and successful criminal justice outcomes." This clinic is just one of the ways by which DeKalb County is working to restore dignity to residents with criminal records, recognizing the role of support in the journey toward rehabilitation and societal reintegration.

The Record Restriction Clinic was a concerted effort, hosted in partnership with numerous local authorities and community organizations, including Goodwill of North Georgia, The Georgia Department of Community Supervision, and The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta, along with many others. It stood as a testament that DeKalb County is committed to not just the enforcement of laws but also to the long-term wellbeing of its community members.