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Nasheed to host expungement clinic for ‘second chances’ for nonviolent offenders

Sen. Jamilah Nasheed is partnering with a nonprofit in St. Louis this weekend to host a restorative justice clinic in an effort to help nonviolent offenders get back on their feet. 

Along with the All the King’s Men organization, Nasheed is hosting the clinic to help educate nonviolent offenders about the state’s expungement laws — and begin the process for those who qualify. 

“Young men and women who get caught up in the criminal justice system, too often they don’t have a second chance. When they go out and look for job opportunities, and when they knock on doors of opportunities, the doors are slammed in their faces each and every day because they walk toward the door with the stigma of being an ex-felon,” Nasheed told The Missouri Times. “It’s very difficult for them to put food on the table. … When a person is not able to put food on the table, they’re going to find a way by any means necessary.” 

“I believe if we’re able to allow for individuals to get their records expunged where employers won’t see what they have done in the past — non-violent convictions — then it makes it easier for them to live a productive life, and it reduces crime,” the Democratic lawmaker continued. 

With the help of Nasheed, the General Assembly passed legislation this year adding certain nonviolent offenses to the list of possible crimes that can be expunged from individuals’ records. 

SB 1, championed by Sen. Kiki Curls, added property damage, stealing, and fraudulent use of a credit or debit card to the list. Gov. Mike Parson signed it into law in July. 

Previously, legislation that went into effect in 2018 created opportunities for certain felony and misdemeanor crimes to be expunged from nonviolent and non-repetitive offenders’ records. Those included passing bad checks, trespassing, damaging property, and disturbing the peace. 

The restorative justice clinic will be held on Aug. 24 at 3108 N. Grand Blvd. in St. Louis from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Lawyers who are well-versed in the criminal justice system and expungement process will be on hand to help those who attend. And while court costs could accrue in getting one’s record expunged, the clinic itself is free of charge. 

Nasheed noted Missouri didn’t have expungement laws in place when she first joined the General Assembly in 2007 like it does now. But over time, she and other lawmakers — as well as the members of the Missouri Bar Association — slowly worked to change that. 

Next year will be Nasheed’s last in the state Senate due to term limits — but still she plans to be a fierce advocate for criminal justice reform even as she rejoins the private sector. 

“I’ll work with other elected officials and give them the knowledge and know-how to be able to work across party lines and get things done,” Nasheed, who represents SD 5, said. 

She said Missouri still needs more diversion programs, greater training for law enforcement officials on how to deal with people who suffer from mental illnesses, and a change in the racial disparity rate among black drivers who are stopped by police in the state. She also wants to see more African Americans representing communities.