City of Harlan hosts third annual Expungement Clinic

Published: Jul. 15, 2021 at 7:14 PM EDT
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HARLAN COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - The City of Harlan hosted its third annual Expungement Clinic Thursday.

Started in 2019, the clinic gives those with a criminal history a chance to get their record reviewed and possibly expunged, making it easier for them to find employment.

“Nobody should ever be given essentially an economic death penalty because of some type of small mistake they’ve made in the past,” Harlan County Judge-Executive Dan Mosley said.

The event ran from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and Event Coordinator TJ Hensley says the inspiration for the clinic came from his personal goal of going into public interest law.

“Really it’s just from a desire to help people. Everybody deserves a second chance...and nobody should be held under such adverse conditions just because of a mistake they made in the past. Everybody deserves a second chance and that’s what we’re here trying to do,” Hensley said.

That sentiment felt by Harlan County Resident and Event Participant James Napier.

“It’s caused me not to be able to get better jobs. I’ve had better offers to make better money but where I had felony charges on me, it caused me not to have these jobs,” Napier said.

Hensley says it gave him a sense of pride, seeing a strong commitment from the community to improve.

“And that’s what we’re here to help them do. We’re here to help them overcome every kind of boundary that they might have, give them any kind of resource that they need. We’re here to help them,” Hensley said.

Napier says that experience has personally been felt by those before him.

“I’ve had family members that’s went through this same thing and has bettered themselves since being in a lot of trouble too and got great degrees and everything once they got their record expunged and benefiting great in life,” Napier said.

Hensley says he is thankful for the partnerships that made the clinic possible. Those include AppalRed, Goodwill, Kentucky Corrections Department, GED Services, Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College, and the Harlan County Community Action Partnerships.

“I just made phone calls and emails and they’re the ones that really make it happen and I’m thankful to the fiscal court for hosting it here at the courthouse. Thankful to especially all the folks who have come out and taken advantage of this opportunity and anything that they need we’re here to help,” Hensley said.

Hensley says around 20 people participated in the event.

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