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Fulton County joins effort to restrict criminal records, opening job and housing opportunities

Fulton County has joined Cobb County in hosting criminal record restriction and expungement open houses to clear records as part of new "Second Chance" legislation.

ATLANTA — A new law in Georgia expanding misdemeanor and certain felony convictions eligible for removal from criminal records is now opening the door for nearly 1.5 million state residents to clear their criminal records.

The impact of this legislation, called "Second Chance" is already having a significant response.

Funded by more than 14 foundations, county district attorneys and solicitors are now embracing this effort with open houses designed to speed up the process of clearing criminal records. 

More than 200 candidates for record restriction spent Saturday at the Fulton County Administration Building in an event hosted by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. 

It follows a similar event in Cobb County, a few weeks ago.

"What we have found is some people have arrest records sometimes going back 20-30 years and those arrest records are preventing them from being able to rent apartments in our state or our community, and preventing them from being able to get a job and it is unfair,” Willis said.

The new law, according to Executive Director of the Georgia Justice Project Doug Ammar who spearheaded the drive to get the legislation enacted, has opened the door wide-open for many who have been denied countless opportunities, haunted by criminal records.

“Unfortunately it does not matter how old it is, sometimes it does not even matter how minor the offense was and it does not matter if you are convicted or not, all that can pale with that criminal record popping up when you talk about an opportunity,” he said.

District attorney Willis says employers and apartment owners will not see any previous criminal activity that has been expunged, but the district attorney's office and the FBI will have access to the records.

Of the 200 who attended Saturday's Fulton County Open House, the district attorney's office says 100 had their records restricted with others now in process.