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Record restriction clinic aims to offer second chance to Fulton County residents

The District Attorney's Office calls it a crime reduction tactic.

ATLANTA — More than 150 people filed into Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta Saturday, for an opportunity at a second chance -- and it required some paperwork.

The Fulton County District Attorney's Office hosted a record restriction clinic to help expedite the process for people who live in the area. The effort helps restrict or seal certain criminal history records for non-criminal justice purposes, such as employment background checks.

"This is an extremely important issue in our community. People find that they have arrest records going back (to the) 70s, 80s, 90s or just last week," District Attorney Fani Willis said. "They can't get a job, they can't do things to become productive members of society. And so we want to help those that really should not have this stain on them."

Since Gov. Brian Kemp signed the Second Chance Act in 2021, those with arrests but no conviction or people who have committed up to two misdemeanors have been eligible for the program.

More than 1,000 people in Fulton County have benefitted, according to the district attorney's office. Saturday's clinic, in partnership with the Georgia Justice Project, is meant to increase that number. 

"We're able to restrict their records. We have a judge here who is signing the orders. We will file with the clerk's office and then that record will be restricted," Assistant District Attorney Ramona Toole said.

Willis said the clinic is also part of a larger initiative to address crime. 

"We're going after crime in two ways," she said. "The first is to make sure that those violent offenders are removed from our community. But we also know that if people don't have opportunity because they have things like arrest records and they can't get a job, they can't do things to become productive members of society."

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